coworker doesn’t pay attention in meetings, LinkedIn’s “stay-at-home-mom” job title, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Coworker doesn’t pay attention during meetings

A team member never pays attention during our team meetings. She sits and types on her laptop, and if the meeting is via Zoom, it is obvious that she is doing work while we are all discussing various issues. If you ask anything that concerns her, again it is obvious that she wasn’t listening and you have to ask her the question again. She is a team member, she does not report to me. My boss hasn’t directly asked her about this, but I know it bothers him and it is quite disrespectful. Other team members find it amusing that she is oblivious to the chat. Any suggestions on how to approach this?

If it just annoys you but isn’t causing real problems, let it go since as a peer you don’t really have  the standing to address it. But if it’s causing problems — and it sounds like it is if people are having to repeat their questionss — it’s reasonable to speak to your boss and say, “Could you ask Jane to tune in more during our meetings? She doesn’t notice when we ask her questions and we’re having to repeat things once we get her attention.”

If your boss is the passive type who won’t do anything, another option is to say at the start of the meeting, “Could we agree not work on other things while we meet? These go faster when everyone is paying attention and not distracted.”

2. Using LinkedIn’s “stay-at-home-mom” job title

I’m so curious for your take on the news that LinkedIn is adding “stay-at-home mom” and other caregiver titles to its site. I understand the rationale, particularly given the harsh reality of millions of women being pushed out of the workforce due to lack of childcare and school closures in the pandemic. I’ve navigated the transition from stay-at-home mom to job seeker myself (pre-pandemic), and it was awkward at times! I’m hugely in favor of any measures that help women get a foothold once they are able/ready to return to the workforce, and for lessening the stigma of caregiving employment gaps in general. But I wonder if LinkedIn’s move is actually helpful, or does it fall into the “well-meaning but misguided career advice” category?

I don’t love it. Being a stay-at-home parent doesn’t belong on your resume so I’m not sure why it should go on your LinkedIn profile, and including it can harm more than help — partly because it’s considered inappropriate to have anything related to your family on your resume and partly because it risks inviting bias (of which women face plenty already). That’s especially true if it seems like you’re equating parenting to work experience (as opposed to just explaining what you were doing during that time), and I worry about this encouraging people to present it that way.

I assume the intent is to help people explain work gaps — but (a) tons of people are going to have pandemic-related gaps and (b) gaps aren’t inherently bad. You might be asked what you were doing during that time, but that’s something you can easily explain with one sentence in your cover letter if you want to.

Your resume is for professional accomplishments and employment, and I don’t know that LinkedIn should be any different.

3. I’m on dating apps and it’s easy to find my workplace

I have a slightly unusual first name. I moved to a new city for a job and joined some dating apps to meet people. My job comes up a lot, as I am passionate about what I do, but a quick google search of my first name and profession leads to my LinkedIn page and other links that show my workplace. I work in a public-facing field and anyone can come into my work when we are open.

I was chatting with one gentleman, who found out I was uninterested and unmatched and then sent an email to my work address that night.

I am not sure how I can stay safe while working here. I don’t want to hide what I do as I am very passionate, but using an alias first name seems kind of awkward.

Yeah, don’t continue to give out both your first name and your profession if they easily lead to that kind of identifying information.

Do you need to be as specific about what you do or can you say something that’s accurate but not as specific? For example, if you do llama midwifery consulting, can you just say “consulting”?

Or can you use a variation of your first name, or a nickname? For example, if your name is Valentina, can you go by Val until you’ve met and determined you’re comfortable with the person knowing more? I know it might feel a little sketchy to introduce yourself as Val and then later be like “actually I’m Valentina, I said Val earlier because my name is super searchable and I didn’t know you yet” — but really, any man who doesn’t understand why you might take that kind of precaution is oblivious to a concerning degree about safety dynamics between the sexes.

4. Employer illegally classified me as a contractor for years — is it too late to do anything about it?

This has bothered me for years, and I’d love to hear your take on it.

Right out of college, I got a job writing/editing for some niche publications under the umbrella of the main newspaper in my state, along with 10-15 other people. We worked as independent contractors for about two years, then we all became full employees for a few months, and then we were all laid off when the economy tanked. Thanks to your blog, I now know that I was illegally classified as an independent contractor (had set hours, an office to go to, using the company’s equipment, etc). This classification cost me a fortune in quarterly taxes, plus I was granted less money when I filed for unemployment after I was laid off.

I’d love to report the company to the IRS/Department of Labor for misclassifying its employees, but this was back in 2008-2010 so I suspect too much time has passed. I’m not looking for restitution or anything like that; I guess I’m just annoyed that they were doing something so blatantly illegal and I worry that they’re still continuing this practice. Did I miss the boat on reporting them?

Unfortunately, yes. You have to file the claim within two years of the violation (or three years in the case of an employer’s willful violation). Your state law might have different deadlines so you could check that, but it probably won’t go back that far.

5. Hiring when we’re open to full-time or part-time

What is the best way to keep our options open for offering a job? I’m at a small nonprofit. We expect to have a full-time position available this summer. The position may be hard to fill because it requires several different skill sets. We might be looking for a unicorn. I would like to post the job (with salary range!) but encourage part-time applicants to apply as well in case we decide to fill the position with a combination of 2-3 part timers. What do you think of this approach?’

You can do that! I’d lay it out very transparently in the ad — “While our preference would be to fill this role with one full-timer, we’re also open to hiring several part-timers to each cover a piece of this work. If you don’t have every skill listed but would be open to part-time work, please apply and note that in your cover letter.”

{ 500 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Please take LW #1 at her word when she says the coworker is doing work during the team discussions and not paying attention. If you’d like to raise another possibility about what might be going on (like ADHD), please ensure you’re clear that you’re simply raising the question of whether there might be another explanation, not assuming any speculation is correct; otherwise we end up with threads that are often wildly unhelpful — and frustrating — to the LW. Thank you.

  2. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

    OP #3, if you really can’t stop talking about your job on dates, then use the alias. I used to do that all the time back in the dark ages when I actually went outside and dated (I had a similar issue of being easily identified), and while it is a little awkward on your end (because it feels a lot like starting off a relationship on a lie), the guys typically understand once you explain the situation (as long as you don’t lie about anything else). Seriously – once I got to the point with a guy where I knew I wanted to keep seeing him, I’d tell him my real name, and he’d laugh and say, “Okay.” I never had one guy end things with me because of it and the guys who would have had an issue with it, I cut them off long before the reveal anyway because they creeped me out or otherwise unsettled me.

    1. Nishipip*

      For myself, if you type my first name into google, you can get literally all info about me that has ever been on the internet. You can find my university, my old myspace from when i was like 12, an article about a polar bear dip from when i was 14 and an entire outline of my family (my grandfather made a website that had a family tree). All on the first page when you google my first name only. You can see my work and my achievements, including the address that I work at. My parents didn’t foresee this when giving me my unusually spelled name.

      Simply not putting the info on a dating profile won’t work, I can’t use dating sites at all. People have found my workplaces using my first name, using my most common nickname, and even reverse image searching my pics. I’m not someone who shares literally anything about myself online, I don’t have a facebook, and my instagram is just pics of my cats, and I don’t use any other platform, but it is really scary how much info is out there about me, even as someone who is really private.

      Sorry OP, I feel you, but I really think the only way to be safe for people like us who have easily searchable names is to just… not use dating sites, unfortunately.

      1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

        You can use the sites, you just have to come up with a totally different name and possibly tweak some things about your backstory. Seriously – I’ve done it successfully, and it hasn’t been a problem.

        1. miss chevious*

          Same – my first name is incredibly unusual, and searching it and my general location tells WAY too much information about me. So I just use a common name that is close enough to mine that I remember to respond to it. No one who I’ve actually gotten to know has cared a bit — they all had some idea about the risks women face online and got why I did it.

      2. Tahani384*

        I have the same issue with an easily identifiable name but just use a more common nickname and it’s never been an issue. It’s your choice to stay off the apps but maybe that’s not the right solution for OP. Dating is hard enough as it is and not using the apps in this day and age could feel seriously limiting.

          1. LW #3*

            I hate them too! But I realize this is just how it’s done now.
            I just also had a streak of people not respecting my boundaries, so this email was VERY unsettling. The fact that he didn’t know it was inappropriate is worrying.

            1. Fran Fine*

              Very worrying, and honestly, that’s why I stopped using the apps, lol. There were just way too many weirdos in one spot for my liking, lol. But I get that it’s A Thing and more and more of us are going to have to suck it up and do it if we ever want to find someone because it’s getting progressively harder to meet a match in real life offline.

            2. Mayflower*

              He knew. HE KNEW. I’ve had that happen several times and it makes you look over your shoulder when you are approaching your home or your place of work for months after it happens. I am very sorry, OP.

              My first and last name combo is unique in the world – literally, there wasn’t a single other living person with that name until I was well into my 40’s (I keep a google alert on my name so I get notified when something pops up). My advice would be to use a different name and disclose that on the second date. “I have to use my middle name because I’ve had an unfortunate brush with a stalker. I hope you understand!” is a perfectly reasonable thing to say. As a bonus, the men’s reaction to it will weed out those who are selfish (know but don’t care) or stupid (care but don’t know).

              I also urge you to use photos that are scrubbed of all metadata (search for “how to remove image metadata”) and that are not used anywhere else (to avoid men using reverse image search).

              Good luck!

              1. Vichyssuave*

                As a bonus, the men’s reaction to it will weed out those who are selfish (know but don’t care) or stupid (care but don’t know).

                Oooo this is a great point. I’ve mentioned similar things in the past and learned a ton from men’s reactions. It ended up being a great (unintentional) filter for the type that go very #notallmen angry about it. No, of course not all men act like that. But you getting mad about me trying to protect my safety may just mean you’re one buddy….

            3. Beth*

              LW3, he absolutely knew it was inappropriate. There’s no way a grown adult man looked at this scenario and went, “I have this communication method A that’s the normal and expected route for the kind of connection I’m trying to make…OR I could block that option off, stalk down her other contact info, and reach out to her in totally unrelated channel B that’s not appropriate for this kind of connection. What might she appreciate more? Hm, B sounds like the way to go!” Nope, that’s nonsense. Your reaction is totally warranted.

            4. PersephoneUnderground*

              Maybe switch to apps meant for general social connections like Meetup or just old-school volunteering etc. to get some help meeting people without the forced or uncomfortable part that comes with dating apps? Even if you don’t meet anyone you want to date at these lower-key events, the people you do meet can be new friends with new social circles.

              1. PersephoneUnderground*

                This was in response to the part about disliking dating apps but sucking it up, to clarify.

      3. Vichyssuave*

        Regarding reverse image search: I know you’ve said you have personally given up online dating but should you ever go back (and for anyone else reading), a good tip is to not use any pictures for online dating apps that are used elsewhere on the internet.

      4. Rainy*

        When I was online dating, I didn’t use photos for my dating profile anywhere else to make reverse image searches harder. My dating profile id wasn’t my name, it was a phrase from a movie I liked, and I didn’t give a name anywhere on it. If someone messaged and I wanted to respond, I sometimes used just an initial (especially one that can be a nickname like M for Em, L for Ell, etc) and sometimes used a fake name. I also didn’t say anything specific about my profession or field unless I’d been dating someone long enough to decide they weren’t a creep.

        Of course, I’ve been stalked in the past. Nothing I did was a lot of effort on my part, and it wouldn’t have stood up to someone determined to be a problem, but it did stop casual googlers from being able to find everything about me. I also, at that time, didn’t have a FB, which really helped.

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      This made me think of something that I never thought of before, probably because I don’t do online dating, but I have been thinking about it.

      I am a private person as well. I have facebook and Instagram but I have the highest level of privacy I can. I work at a public university so my name picture and work info is on the website. Anyone could search for me and very easily find my work info. THis is a little concerning for me because I’m typically the only one in my office, or there are very few people in the office. It’s a bit out of the way and I’m at the front desk area. The only plus side is that no one can find the office by the number, because its so out of the way!

    3. TWW*

      Using an alias while chatting with strangers on the internet is not a “lie”. If that were the case, everyone on this comment section is a liar.

      I’m old enough to remember when using your real name on the internet (even just a real first name) was unheard of. That changed when Facebook and Gmail came around and “required” real names. However, if there’s anywhere where aliases should be the default, it’s dating sites.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Using an alias while chatting with strangers on the internet is not a “lie”

        Of course it isn’t, hence why I said I did it. My point was, OP said she felt awkward about potentially making up an alias to use on these sites, and my supposition for why she felt that way was because she may view it as being deceitful – and I said it isn’t, it’s a safety concern, and most guys truly don’t care when you explain the reason you did it.

    4. Bluesboy*

      I would add to do some ‘practice’ searches using the ‘incognito’ mode (so that it doesn’t take your past searches) into account, which can skew your results.

      I have an unusual first name (for the country I live in). I just checked, if you put my first name, city and job/sector ‘investment banking’ into Google, the first thing you find is my LinkedIn page.

      But just by changing ‘investment banking’ to ‘banking’…I’m not on the first ten pages (that’s as far as I looked).

    5. Mid*

      Yes. I dislike my middle name, and never use it on anything, so I’ve used that on apps when I was worried about security. I have [unique first name] [generic middle name] [mildly unique last name] so my real first + last usually brings me up, but middle + last doesn’t. Similarly, I currently work in a very niche area of law, so I don’t tell people specifically what I do/what type of law, just my general job title, because it would be very easy to find my very small employer and therefore me.

      It isn’t lying, it’s protection. No different than giving someone a fake phone number when harassed at a bar.

  3. Sami*

    #3 – yeah I’d stick with Val for Valentina until you’re really ready and sure it’s safe.
    My last name is very unique, my first name less so. However, I’m the only Valentina Warbleworth in, not only the US, but the world. (Yes, I’ve done lots of research.)
    Good luck!

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Ahh, fellow unique last name person! There’s only 2 people in the world with my last name and I’m married to the other one. If I have to use my full name on e.g. a social site I use a version that’s considerably shortened so it becomes a far more common one.

    2. lailaaaaah*

      I’d potentially go a step further and use a dating nickname – a guy I dated briefly did the same thing, and it was a good thing he did, because he was *very* easy to google once you so much as had his first name, and his work was pretty sensitive.

      1. NerdyKris*

        Yup, went out with someone with a very unique first name, she went by something else for the first date.

        1. PeanutButter*

          I’m so bad with names that honestly someone could have given me a fake one for the first few dates and I likely wouldn’t notice if they just switched to the real one. XD

    3. LifeBeforeCorona*

      My first and last name combo is so common that hundreds of us come up in a search. But for dating purposes, I still use a variation of my name and an email address on a separate domain, gmail vs yahoo from my official one.

    4. ThatGirl*

      Same – there are very few people in the world with our last name, and my first name is unusual enough that I’m pretty sure I’m the only one of me in the world.

      That said I go by my middle name a lot for situations where I want to be semi-anonymous, and nobody has ever blinked when I tell them what my real first name is.

    5. meyer lemon*

      I’m also a member of this club! My first name is semi-unusual but my last name is rare enough that everyone who has it is a close relative. The combination is unique, unless I have a relative I don’t know about. I think it must be kind of freeing to have a common name.

    6. Just @ me next time*

      I’m the opposite! My first and last name combo is ridiculously common (think Emily Rogers to your Valentina Warbleworth) that I get over 11 million results when I google my name. When I started university, there was another person with my exact name already among the roughly 20,000 other students. I now work in government and, for a little while, I was getting random meeting invitations clearly meant for someone else in a different branch (our whole level of government–30,000 or so employees–shares an address book on our email client). I couldn’t find another me in the address book, so I have a theory that the other “Emily Rogers” worked for that branch but had recently changed her last name and her more forgetful coworkers kept accidentally using her old name and getting me.

      It’s great for anonymity, but it’s not great for my night job as a creative writer. There are multiple other writers published under the same name, including an anti-vaxxer.

      1. Cara*

        A relative was an attorney for a large manufacturing corporation and specialized in certain environmental regulatory matters. There was another attorney in the same city with the same name (which was uncommon) who worked for environmental regulatory agencies. They met a couple of times at professional events and determined that they were not related, except maybe waaaay back in the old country. Nevertheless, there was confusion. Once my relative had papers served at his home that were meant for the other guy. Their respective assistants usually sorted it out. When my relative died, the obituary in the paper was written in a way that made it clear, without explicitly stating it, that he was not the other guy; I believe that a close relative contacted the paper to explain the real risk of confusing the two.

      2. nonegiven*

        There is a site howmanyofme dot com, I think it’s just in the US. It tells you how many people have your first name, last name, and both.

      3. Common name*

        I have had that happen twice at jobs I’ve worked. The first time I got emails that didn’t make sense as to why I was receiving it. Finally received an email that had the other person’s email in the email chain. Got to know that person and we not only had the same first and last names but our middle names were the same and we were both planning a wedding. The second time, I just forwarded the emails to them.

        1. Midwest Manager*

          My sister and my sister-in-law have the same first name and middle initial. My sister married and changed her last name, then about a year later my brother married and his wife changed her last name. So on paper, my sister-in-law suddenly looked like she was my sister. Took them a few years to get marketers and other companies to start getting them straight.

  4. H*

    LW3, I have a friend with a very rare first name. She goes by a completely different first name that cannot be connected to her real first name. She is consistent in it too to the point that it isn’t unusual for her to be called it IRL if there is a larger party (precovid) or similar where the same type of issues as on a dating app can occur. I would really encourage something similar. Using Val for Valentina or similar will still make you searchable and the nickname will confirm who you are if the person suspects they have found you. You need something more different than that, something unrelated.

    And no, it isn’t strange at all. Many people have jobs they are not allowed to discuss in much detail without being secret agents and many prefer to keep personal and professional lives separate.

    1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

      She goes by a completely different first name that cannot be connected to her real first name.

      This is what I did, mainly because my real name is already short at just five letters and doesn’t have an established diminutive to go by.

      1. BubbleTea*

        My ex used her middle name on the dating app where we met, and didn’t tell me her real first name until we had met up. I was fine with it- it was still her name, but also gave some level of protection from weirdness.

        1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

          My middle name is terrible, otherwise, I probably would have done the same, lol.

        2. Tired of Covid-and People*

          Y’all use real names on dating sites now? When I was on them, we had fictitious user names just like here on AAM. Real names came later for both parties. I would never want to reveal my real name, posting a real picture is enough exposure.

    2. singlemaltgirl*

      i do the exact same thing. my first name is so unusual (and short) that you could google it if you had the right spelling and find me. so on dating sites, i don’t use it. if i meet someone and i find that after a coffee meet, we’d like to see each other again, then i give out my real name and explain why i used the other. it’s never been a problem but by that time, i have a reasonable idea of whether dude would make an allowance for such a precaution or not. i also don’t give out my cell # until i get to the ‘agree to go out on a date’ after a coffee meet stage, too.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      I not only had a fake name, I set up a special email account under that name.

      I read way too many murder mysteries to think that giving strangers my personal information is OK.

      (I still have that fake name email, but I use it for buying things online and other things where I risk spam.)(Only my friends and family get the Good Email Address.)

      1. Sparrow*

        I am definitely in favor of different email addresses, especially if you’re interacting with people you don’t know irl. I have my “real” personal email that I use for family, friends, utility bills, job hunting, etc., plus another one without my actual name attached that I use just for social things online, and then another one that’s just for online shopping, etc. It keeps things quite compartmentalized, which I appreciate, and it’s so easy to set up an email address, I don’t see the point of not doing it.

        I do think it’s generally smart to err on the side of fake names or not-easily-identifiable nicknames if you’re interacting with people you don’t know. My real name isn’t super common, especially among my generation, so I use a non-standard nickname derived from my real name so it doesn’t feel like I’m lying, but it’s also doesn’t easily give away my actual name (think a Christie using the nickname “Tee”).

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I don’t even care if I’m lying! I lie online everywhere – I told facebook I am a 90 year old man born on Jan 1.

          That is not true. But the truth is none of their business.

    4. prismo*

      I was also in this boat! I’m a ciswoman, my last name is extremely rare in my country and my job is one where I have to have a lot of info about me online with my full name. When I was online dating I used my (very common) first name only, was vague about my career, and reverse image searched all the photos I chose to make sure they couldn’t be tied to any of my social media profiles (and thus my name and workplace).

      I met my now husband on the site and he totally got it — in fact our early messages involved a conversation about how dudes are creepy online, lol. At some point after our first date I felt comfortable telling him my last name and it just was never an issue. This was nearly a decade ago, I’d probably be even more careful if were dating online now.

  5. Emma*

    LW 3: this is exactly why I’m “Emma” or “Em” until I know someone. My first name is highly unusual – I’m literally the only adult female with it in my city’s metro area of half a million people – so no one gets my real name till I’m comfortable with them. If they get pissy about it, boy bye.

  6. Fiona the baby hippo*

    #3 oh my god this reminded me of something similar that happened to me. I have a very unique name for a woman and was stopped by a guy getting off the subway by my office. He said his name, and I said mine back reflexively. We had a very awkward encounter where I realized too late he was hitting on me. I said I had to go to my job and when he asked I told him. It was a national media outlet so I was very google able by the outlet+first name. You can guess what happened next!! He emailed to apologize for coming on strong, then waited a few hours and asked for coffee, then when I ignored that he messaged me on Twitter asking for drinks. The worst part is we were on the same subway line so I saw him a few times after that. Lesson unfortunately learned.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I saw that movie! He is improbably handsome with a charming smile, not that you noticed, and after a series of zany miscommunications you two finally got together and presumably are living happily ever after. Closing credits.

      1. curly sue*

        Or conversely, any number of episodes of Criminal Minds that could begin the same way…

      2. Beth*

        I see the joke you’re trying to make here, but seriously, romcoms framing creepy behavior as a meet-cute is so frustrating to me. Men do actually behave like this, all the time (not all men, sure, but enough for most women to have a story or three), and when it happens in real life, it’s just scary. My worst one is the guy who followed me for 10+ blocks, then finally grabbed my arm to force me to stop ignoring him, then TOLD me he’d been following me for 10+ blocks. I think he genuinely thought it was a cute sign of interest! I was just scared, I’d known he was there and was just trying to get away.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          My actual intent was to comment on the rom-com convention, but it is hard to do that with being explicit about it.

          1. Tessie Mae*

            I understood your comment as such. So much of the rom-com convention is truly horrible.

        2. 1234*

          That is so nuts. I don’t understand why anyone would think this is a GOOD way to get someone’s attention. Were you supposed to say “oh wow, you’re so handsome! And you made such an effort by following me for 10+ blocks. Wow! I’ve never been so charmed!” Ugh.

          1. Beth*

            He backed off easily when I (lied and) said I had a boyfriend, no pushiness at all once I said no, so I genuinely think he thought this was a potential meet-cute and a show of strong interest or something! I’ve had other guys be aggressive at me, but most of them seem to know they’re being creepy. This one stood out because he genuinely seemed to think this was a normal and unremarkable thing to do.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Ugh that is so creepy! How does he not realize his creepy that is? I once went on one terrible date with a particular guy, and he somehow thought we were basically engaged after that. After I told him I wasn’t interested and stopped replying to hist texts and calls (!!) he actually found me on Facebook. I ignored his request, then removed all personal info from my profile. Years later I went on one terrible date with a different guy who was overall less aggressive, but did the same thing when I told him I wasn’t interested. Why is this creepiness so common?

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Because it’s also the intro to 90% of the romcoms out there, including the TV ones. People who grew up on thinking Erkel was *funny* need some deprogramming before they can date.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I think you made a good point. Way back when Harlequin romance novels were a big deal – maybe they still are, for all I know – many of my girlfriends wished a man would swoop in and romance her like heroes in those novels. You know, just take control and stay true to their belief that she is The One, ignoring every obstacle like a current partner or ‘Stay away from me.’ I read a few Harlequins and thought some of the heroes were creepy, controlling, and predatory, even when True Love prevailed.

          And yeah, nerdy Urkels might not be Harlequin-level predators but they are amazingly deaf to the word NO.

          But I guess some people love the grand gestures, even when they’re creepy ones.

          1. Starbuck*

            Sometimes it’s enjoyable or satisfying to indulge in the fantasy that these kinds of encounters and behaviors that are unpleasant or frightening in real life could somehow work out in your favor and lead to something good. Keeping a bit of hope alive, even if you know deep down it’s not realistic.

            As a reader of romances, I’m very aware that I wouldn’t want many of the things depicted in them to happen to me in real life (leaving aside that there are many different types of romantic fiction out there, not all of which follow these sorts of tropes), but I can enjoy experiencing them in the safe and controlled venue of fiction and my own imagination.

            And yes, romance book sales are still a big deal – they’re actually the number one bestselling genre of novels, by a lot! By the metrics I’ve found, they gross about double the sales of the next most popular genre (crime/mystery, generously combining the two into one category) But for whatever reason, a lot of people are surprised to learn this.

        2. Selina Luna*

          I thought Urkel was funny but still understood that he was super problematic and that I didn’t want to date or even be friends with anyone like that.
          It wasn’t his behavior toward Laura that was funny, though. It was how he behaved toward Carl.

      2. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

        Because people are desperate for connection – any connection – so tend to amplify casual encounters into something more than it is in hopes that it’ll stick and they’ll be less alone. Also, lack of boundaries and poor social skills.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          And because men think that because they want, they should get. Women’s rights don’t matter.

          1. Fran Fine (formerly Diahann Carroll)*

            That too, but I didn’t go there because I had female friends who did weird shit like this to guys they were attracted to as well, so it’s not always just a male entitlement thing.

            1. Texan In Exile*

              (Not to derail this conversation any further, but the obvious difference, of course, is that men are far more dangerous for women than women are for men.)

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        This is the person relationship version of Gumption! Lots of popular culture encourages the idea.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Very true. It’s very concerning, though, how people can’t distinguish between reality and fiction. Just because you see something work in a movie doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to do in the real world. But I guess that goes back to my point about lack of social skills these days.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            It’s a learning curve. My daughter, when she was about eight or so, realized that unicorns aren’t real. She was OK with that, as she understood make-believe. But she lacked the experience to know what is real and what is make-believe, so she asked me about ponies. And why not? She hadn’t, after all, had any direct experience with ponies. She only knew about both ponies and unicorns from books and videos.

            We don’t get into dating until our teens, so that is when the learning curve of separating reality from fiction begins. Some people figure it out quickly. Others take a while. Some never do. I was in my mid-20s before I did, with a late start on figuring out how to ask a girl out on a date.

            1. Idril Celebrindal*

              Unfortunately, the fact that you are comparing women wanting men to treat them like autonomous human beings instead of gratification dispensers with believing in unicorns is kind of a symptom of the problem.

              It is perfectly possible to teach children about consent and respect long before they reach dating age. In fact I would argue that it is absolutely essential to address it with all children as soon as they are capable of understanding speech or even before (since it isn’t limited to dating/sex, obviously, and anyone who thinks it is, is vastly missing the point)

              1. Texan In Exile*

                This, exactly. I realized a few years ago that forcing my friends’ little kids into hugs was not a good idea. Children should not be touched – even affectionate hugs from people who think they are adorable – unless they consent.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            Not just in ‘a’ movie, in *most* romantic comedies, with it being encouraged as ‘romantic’.
            Say Anything: Boom box scene is harassment
            You’ve Got Mail: Based on catfishing, continued with stalking
            Sleepless in Seattle: Stalking
            Never Been Kissed: Pure catfishing
            10 Things I Hate About You, Something About Mary: Stalking

            I think the best (eg When Harry Met Sally, Clueless and His Girl Friday) don’t have any of this, but most do.

            1. Not their Girl Friday any more*

              I was not impressed with the lead from His Girl Friday – he was super manipulative. On the other hand, watching that movie helped me make the decision not to go back to working for the newspaper that took advantage of me.

            2. Not playing your game anymore*

              As I child of the 60’s, practically every song I loved was about stalking, or at least harassment and underage sex. I’ll be watching You, cause Sylvia’s Mother’s gonna Knock on your door, cause You’re Sixteen, Only Sixteen

            3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Added to which, men often don’t watch romcoms. I remember a guy who said his only knowledge of how to kiss a girl was learned in Star Wars, specifically the scene where Harrison Ford keeps trying and finally when she’s backed right into the wall Carrie Fisher then inexplicably starts kissing him passionately. Nope, that’s a male fantasy, IRL he’d have been slapped in the face (also because IRL he wouldn’t have half HF’s sex appeal).

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                It could be worse. I watched some of Lovejoy, a British TV show from the ’80s. (The date is obvious: Just look at the hair!) The main character, played by Ian McShane, is of the classic lovable rogue sort. I gather the show is a minor cult classic, and I can see why. The books it was based on are out of print, but I was able to snag a copy of the first one. I got maybe two chapters in. This version of Lovejoy is a manly man. We know this because he slaps women around, and they love him for it.

              2. wittyrepartee*

                And IRL Leia would be like “oh God, please someone come in. This is frightening.”

              3. Mr. Shark*

                I’m still amazed that more people haven’t criticized Empire Strikes Back for how Han Solo is basically forcing himself on Leia, and she is portrayed as the shrinking violet who doesn’t know what she wants. It always seemed to me a big step back from her portrayal in ANH and even her actions in Return of the Jedi (not to get too far off subject).

            4. Elitist Semicolon*

              Isn’t You’ve Got Mail the one where he intentionally ruins her small business as well? I rewatched that sometime last spring and found the entire thing horrifying.

              1. Fran Fine*

                Yes, I hated that movie for that reason too. There was nothing cute about that whole scenario and any man who would threaten my livelihood in that way would be dead to me.

      4. lemon*

        Because this is what we’re taught “romance” is. Dudes are taught that if they just keep persisting, they’ll be rewarded with the prize of a date. That Lloyd Dobler standing outside Diane Court’s bedroom with a boom box isn’t creepy, but the way to win her over. And women are taught that if a dude pursues, he must be really into you.

        Gavin de Becker said it well: “The fact that a romantic pursuer is relentless doesn’t mean you are special–it means he is troubled.”

    3. LW #3*

      Oh no! Yes, it’s just a reflex when someone asks your name, you answer. Don’t feel bad about that!

    4. profe*

      When I was younger and studying abroad, I had a bright, unusually colored peacoat that I adored. Until I was, more than once, recognized by a man I had previously rebuffed. It was an incredibly discouraging life lesson.

    5. BadWolf*

      A fellow volunteer and I were chatting while waiting to start our activity and after exchanging names, where I worked, she asked me my middle name. While I was telling her my middle name, part of my brain was going “Don’t! Stop! What are we doing!” I am pretty sure she was just making small talk and interested in names, but afterwards, I felt like I’d randomly be divulging too much personal information to a stranger.

  7. All Outrage, All The Time*

    #op3 I use my initials – think TJ – until I know someone well enough to give them my full name. With regards to work I just say I work in logistics for a government agency, but who wants to talk about work? Tell me who did your amazing tattoo sleeve?

    1. EPLawyer*

      Also this. LW 3, I get you are passionate about your job. But you don’t need to do an info dump to everyone you meet. boundaries are a good thing, especially when getting to know someone. Use a nickname AND be vague about what you do until you feel safe with the person.

      1. Tinderless*

        Exactly. No one needs to know all the details right off the bat. I won’t give my full name and am vague about my job. There’s too many weirdos out there, male and female. You may love your job and keep it to yourself.

  8. Beth*

    LW3, definitely use an alias on sites! If your name isn’t easily nickname-able, use a fake name, or your middle name, or something else that you aren’t easily traced by. Your safety trumps any awkwardness that comes from later saying “Actually, could you call me ___? I use ___ online because my name is so easily searchable, and it’s been a safety issue before. But now that I know you, I’d like you to have my real info :)”

    It might also be worth holding off on specifics about your work until you’ve met someone IRL. I know it’s easy to talk about a job you’re passionate about (I’m in the same boat!), but when our work is easily identifiable, it can be an issue. Even saving it for 20 minutes into a first date, once you’ve gotten the “this person doesn’t give me stalker vibes” check done, can make a big difference.

    1. Willis*

      Yeah – I agree that an alias is fine but if OP doesn’t want to do that, I would hold off on identifying my job until actually meeting the person and getting a better sense of them vs chatting about it before even meeting. It’s really creepy when you think about how easily such basic info could potentially be used against you!

    2. The Rural Juror*

      It amazes me how many people will use a dating app that only give your first name on your profile, but then have SO MANY identifiers in their description. They make it easy for anyone who wants to find them! So if the dating app defaults on only giving out a certain amount of information, don’t go above and beyond to give more more more. Sheesh!

      1. Temperance*

        YES. My first name and job title combo is incredibly unique. It would be so easy to find me.

      2. vlookup*

        I’m guilty of this. I assume my dating app profile is essentially public, and while I include photos of my face and info about my work and hobbies, I don’t share anything that I wouldn’t want a friend, colleague, ex, etc. to see (I’ve come across lots of people I know on the apps, and I assume they’re going to see me at some point too).

        That said, I have a mundane job and I’m a lesbian. If I dated men I would honestly probably be more careful.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I don’t have my name on any media apps where I can avoid it (Instagram, for instance) because my first name is very obscure and my last name is relatively obscure and if you google me you will absolutely find my work website complete with contact information.

      There used to be one of those silly pop culture games that allowed you to calculate how many people in the world had your name. According to that there are 1.3 of me. If I had included my even-more-obscure middle name I would probably have ceased to exist.

  9. HelloHello*

    OP #1, you could ask everyone put other work away at the start of the meeting, if your coworker is causing significant problems, but I think it’s going to feel an awful lot like the kid who reminds the teacher to assign homework if you do. Making everyone put everything else away during a meeting is going to risk annoying people who are able to keep an eye on email or send a quick response without losing focus during a meeting.

    1. Violet Fox*

      I’m also wondering just how many meetings they are having and if Jane is having a hard time getting all of her work done otherwise because she’s being over-scheduled or over-meetinged.

        1. Needmore Sleep*

          I agree. Last year I was hired in to one small outlet that is part of a larger organization which in itself is part of an even larger organization.
          The middle level of my organization has a monthly Zoom meeting which those at that level strongly encourage me to attend.

          I did attend the first several of them, believing (based on their statements) that I was going to get useful information on the pandemic and other current items. Not only did I not get that info, I made time to attend these 2-hour or so meetings when I really had much more pressing work to do while I was still adjusting to this new job.

          I was grateful at first that my desktop had no camera or mic (Oh, Shucky Darn!) But with the approval of my actual boss, I just stopped attending, and I think I’m more productive for it.

          Perhaps OP’s org. should consider the purpose of the meetings and consider whether they are more of a time sink than useful.

          “Meetings: The alternative to work.”

          1. Needmore Sleep*

            I forgot to mention that, on top of that, at my second such meeting I was voluntold to lead the next one, with no direction on how to set it up, despite my asking, I followed my unit’s very reasonable directives concerning security/privacy etc. but the actual attendees (so one level up) kicked up a fuss that I did it wrong. Sigh…

      1. Wendy*

        Yep, definitely. Also possible: does she need to be at these meetings in the first place?

        My husband started a new job a few months before the pandemic hit, so I’ve gotten to see most of his work first-hand – and there are SO MANY MEETINGS. Most of which he doesn’t really need to be at, but his manager likes having “everyone on the same page” so instead of parsing information and passing it to the people who need it, she invites everyone to every meeting. My husband is a quiet guy anyway and generally ends up doing a fair amount of work during some of these ramble-fests, but I have no idea how this worked pre-pandemic. Luckily they’re all working from home for the foreseeable future (company in the middle of moving locations anyway) so maybe by the time he needs to go meetings in person he may be on another team.

        1. Violet Fox*

          One of the big things I’ve seen and experienced with Zoom is that it is just too easy to call meetings and to just assume that everyone is available. There really needs to be a lot more thought of purpose of the meetings and if it is something that can be accomplished quicker/easier over an email, or if it is just giving out information – maybe just email/email a link to the relevant info instead.

        2. AndersonDarling*

          So this! There are meetings with the same 10 people but in different groups so all the topics discussed come up at each meeting. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is happening with the OP, that the employee already heard all the topics discussed at another meeting so they are literally hearing them all for the second or third time.
          If the employee’s manager isn’t concerned, then I’m going to bet there already was a conversation about it and the manager agreed with the employee. And they are just playing along with the meetings.

        3. Chas*

          My boss is similar- I get invited to meetings about almost all of the projects our group is involved with, even if I’m unlikely to be asked more than a couple of questions about it, or it’s not a project I’m actually working on, so there’s also times when I’ve resorted to checking my emails or creating a figure while everyone has an in-depth discussion about something outside of my specialty, while keeping an ear out for any talk that I can actually contribute to.

          The bigger issue for me is that he’s also started inviting a new coworker to my weekly 1-on-1 meetings with him at the last minute ‘because this concerns her too’, but then also spends the time asking her stuff like how her settling into the area is going, which is incredibly awkward for me to be sat listening to (not because I don’t care, but because some of what he’s asked her borders into ‘not really my business to know this’ territory). Plus it also means he stops my presentation to spend time explaining the background of what I’m doing and why to the new coworker (as the presentation I’d prepared doesn’t have that info on it because it was supposed to be a ‘here’s my data, now what?’ kind of meeting) and that results in other things I needed to talk about with him being pushed back to an extra 1-on-1 meeting that I have to work around (Whereas if he’d just held a separate meeting with the new coworker where he asked how she was and passed on the relevant parts of my presentation to her then I could have just had the usual 1-on-1 with him.)

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            The “keeping an ear out” is key, and where the LW’s coworker is falling down. It is an important life skill.

        4. NeutralJanet*

          OP says that the rest of the team regularly has to repeat questions to Jane because she isn’t paying attention, so it sounds like she frequently does have to contribute, meaning she does probably genuinely have to be there.

          1. The Rural Juror*

            Was just thinking the same thing. If people are asking her questions, there’s probably a good reason why she’s included in these meetings.

        5. Yorick*

          She obviously does need to be at these meetings, since people have questions for her that she’s not answering because she’s not paying attention.

        6. Annony*

          That’s what I was wondering. Is most of the meeting irrelevant to her? I can see why she would tune it out if she has a lot to do. If that is the case it might be worth setting up shorter specific meetings that she needs to be fully engaged in. If that is not an option, then maybe the status quo where she is on hand to answer questions but not fully engaged is actually what works best.

          1. Nesprin*

            In the best of all possible worlds, there’d be a meeting agenda so that she could tune out the Llama bathing and blow drying sections and tune back in for the nail clipping section, but humans are difficult creatures and structuring a meeting thusly may be less than straightforward.

            I will admit that I play phone games thru the non-relevant, or politically charged sections of meetings so that I can retain teh attention for the important bits, but it sounds like this coworker is significantly worse.

      2. Andy*

        Afaik, realistically, this is rarely about being over-scheduled and not having time. It may be about meetings being too long and frequent, about majority of meeting having nothing to do with me, about not feeling as active participant for social reasons. If there is meeting an hour long where you get to be asked two questions and the rest is reiterating the same discussion as always, with manager dealing with issues that dont have to do anything to do with me, then it is very numbing hour.

        And even if you are not overworked, you can start working, because it is just boring. Working is alternative to day dreaming there.

        And dome people feel to be above meetings, no matter how important those are. It could be that case too.

        1. Anon for this*

          Oh boy, this! I work during meetings unless they’re very short, because I get bored to tears with focusing on one single thing for too long (say, over 20 minutes). I can keep an ear open to the meeting context and be ready to interact, so nobody is repeating themselves for me, but I will literally fall asleep if I can’t do something else while the meeting subject doesn’t concern me. It was a huge problem while I went to the office, and WFH has been a godsend in that regard.

          I’m not saying that’s what’s happening with OP’s coworker, she’s not paying attention at all that’s messed up. But I’d stay away from asking everyone to focus on the meeting only, because that would really hurt someone like me.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            Likewise. Remote work means we don’t just casually talk about work while getting coffee or over cubicle walls. Some companies overdo team meetings to ‘cover important business’, and my experience tells me it usually isn’t that important.

            It’s worth noting that on a recent project, our weekly status meetings were run by a manager who asked us to put ourselves on mute at the beginning of our conference calls. Not because of crying children or barking dogs or interrupting partners, but because the pounding on our keyboards was too distracting. It’s also worth noting she did not ask us to stop working on other things and pay attention.

        2. doreen*

          I have one meeting a month that is mostly useless. It was done over Webex even pre-pandemic , and it consists of everyone in my part of the agency at my level and above. The first hour or so is somewhat useful- it involves the agency head and various deputies informing us of new policies and procedures , legislative developments and so on. The next hour and a half is supposed to be the 40 or so offices reporting on what’s going on locally – supposedly it’s to give the agency heads and deputies an idea of what’s going on in the local office – but it’s heavily scripted and duplicates the information that appears in a monthly written report. Even if it wasn’t for those two issues , what’s going in most of those other offices is neither relevant nor interesting to the rest of us – so while “office 6 hours away” is talking about their staffing, I’m usually doing something else. Other people hang up after they have reported . So far, it hasn’t been obvious because it’s so scripted

          1. Not playing your game anymore*

            Oh how familiar this sounds. We have several different monthly meetings with the 6 state agency that use a particular piece of operations management software, several of us are very small and have one person that manages all aspects of the software (my situation) two of the institutions are much larger places with multiple fingers in the pie and running a multiple internal locations. We only use a few of the functions, that we’ve been using for a while and that are usually working well. The big guys are out there pushing the envelope and trying to do things that we have no need for. The meetings are occasionally useful because the U will encounter and solve a problem that we were destined to have eventually, but more often these session are just long “listen to the staff at U bitch about something that I’m never going to need to deal with” I admit to inattention at times.

        3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          With very few exceptions, most of the meetings I’ve attended are 15-20% productive discussion of issues, and the rest of the time is split between the one or two attendees who LOVE the sound of their own voice. Every hour-long meeting I’ve ever been in could’ve been fifteen minutes long. At least Jane is getting something done.

        4. Rach*

          Some days I am in meetings for 4+ hours. Where I sit, bored and uneeded for most of the time. It is torture when I have a laundry list of assignments to complete. I wouldn’t assume most meetings are needed and people aren’t overworked and overscheduled.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        Also my 1st thought. OP, some options:
        1) Schedule fewer meetings; really think through if this is needed as often as it is held
        2) Ask for a formal agenda, so that all attendees can know when topics they’re likely to be asked about are coming up. (If the meeting owner can’t provide an agenda, the meeting probably isn’t that useful)

        1. Annony*

          You could also consider making the meetings shorter and more focused. We have weekly team meetings where we talk about all the projects the team is working on. There are three major projects and I am only involved in one. On weeks that I have a lot on my plate I do tend to tune out the parts that are about the other projects and get some work done because I really don’t want a 10 hour day if I can help it. If I have less to do I stay engaged but I don’t feel bad about my prioritization.

      4. Person from the Resume*

        That’s not the LW’s problem. The LW’s problem is that Jane isn’t paying attention in meetings where Jane has necessary information to share and every single time they have a question for her they have to recap the background and repeat the question.

        If Jane has a problem with too many meetings and too much work, Jane needs to bring it up with her boss.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          One thing you could all do is get Jane’s attention *before* you ask the question. “Jane, are you there? I have a question about the blue teapots.”

          1. Dust Bunny*

            They shouldn’t have to do this. Jane knows she’s in the meeting–she should be paying attention and ready when it’s her turn.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Eh. I do a lot of things I shouldn’t “have to” do, just to make things go more smoothly. That’s why it’s called work. ;-)

              1. Darth mofongo*

                Agreed. Often you can be mad about the principle of the thing ineffectively or you can just make a small adjustment effectively.

                I tend to want to be mad about the principle but honestly, it’s more aggravating than just fixing the problem, so I work to try to just get things done instead.

                Doubly when it’s a peer you have no control over.

              2. Uranus Wars*

                I do too, and generally agree. BUT when I’m 10 minutes into a group discussion on tea pots, I shouldn’t have to pause before each question to say “Jane, have you been listening, my next question is for you.”…”OK, thanks”…”Joe, next question is for you, are you ready?” Which is what it sounds like is happening/would need to happen.

                We regularly have meetings I feel are unnecessary and I am guilty of checking email, etc. while in those meetings but when we’re talking about an update on something I have input into I know the chances of someone asking me a question is high, so I pay better attention during that part of the discussion.

          2. JayNay*

            ooh I like this! I actually prefer this approach to Alison’s suggestion of saying at the beginning of the meeting “can we all agree not to work on anything else for now.” That is a moderator’s job (aka likely LW’s boss).
            Also, please, LW, stop worrying about your boss being annoyed. If your boss wants to speak to Jane about this, that’s her prerogative. It’s even your boss’s job to say something if Jane’s actions cause friction in the meetings. You certainly could raise it with your boss if you’re feeling disrespected by it – “I’m doing my best to prepare my items and questions beforehand and I’m a bit thrown off that I have to backtrack ever time I need Jane’s attention.” or some such. But if your boss doesn’t say anything and doesn’t address it, maybe it’s time to make peace with Jane’s absent-mindedness.

          3. Delta Delta*

            That gives Jane a second to unmute, which might also be an issue. Might seem like she’s not paying attention (and maybe she’s not), but that she might also be muted and need a second to unmute.

      5. Introvert girl*

        I also tend to work during meetings. We have them everyday, sometimes they last 45 min. As I’m working on a different project than the rest of the team and have my own deadlines, I can’t always spare the time.

    2. AzaleaBertrand*

      We’ve had this in my team, turns out the coworker in question is someone who really struggles to understand/focus just listening on a call. By asking our problematic coworker to lead the meeting (in the form of a rotating chair) or take notes, they suddenly became far more engaged in the whole process.

      1. Needmore Sleep*

        I understand your rationale and agree for the most part, but in my case (see above), it would mean that an overwhelmed attendee gets saddled with more work.
        I do find it hard to concentrate on Zoom meetings in general but even more so when I see the work piling up around me.

        1. AzaleaBertrand*

          Sure, that’s a possibility too! In our case, she definitely wasn’t overworked and if she had been paying attention it would have made her job easier. We have a strategic role and she didn’t understand the links between her work and the rest of the team’s work which caused all manner of headaches for everyone… Getting her to lead meant she had to actively engage with the rest of us. I mean, before that she thought *I* chaired the meetings when I’m just a pleb on the same level and it was our boss who actually called and ran the meeting!

      2. WellRed*

        We did something similar recently with a different person taking the lead each week. It’s a very small team though and our meetings are a little uh, free form. I don’t know that we’ll keep it up long term.

        1. AzaleaBertrand*

          As someone who tends to jump in and dominate conversations, it’s actually been a good reminder for me to step back and direct some focus onto others. Also not sure how long we’ll keep this up, but perhaps simply trying new things and regular format changes might help keep things fresh and not too draining.

      3. Retired Prof*

        I am ADD and I *cannot* sit through a meeting without doing something else at the same time. Back in the Before Times I usually chaired any committees I was on so I could take notes and focus on running the meeting. When I am just a participant it is a huge struggle to stay with the meeting unless I can do something else at the same time. In Zoom meetings I do digital jigsaw puzzles, or Sudoku, or knit, things that require a bit of focus from time to time but are otherwise background noise to fill up my other sensory channels so I can listen. Sometimes people have to ask me things twice. But without the distractions I would never know what the meeting is about. Maybe the boss knows this is how the co-worker functions and her contributions outweigh any annoyance that sometimes she needs to be asked twice. Asking her to put away the work might result in *worse* attention, not better.

        1. Great Company you should trust*

          I work all the time too, but it seems as if Jane is not paying attention. So she doesn’t hear what is being said and has to be constantly asked things. I work or do other things but also follow along and know what is being said and would not have anyone ask for repeating. I don’t know how her attention could be worse, honestly.

    3. Frankie Derwent*

      If this was a face to face meeting, we’d nudge the obviously distracted co-worker. How about doing the virtual version by shooting an IM or a text message, whatever she usually reads immediately.

    4. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah. I think there’s something to be said in ‘calling out’ Jane directly, but also kindly and offering the benefit of the doubt, eg: “I’ve noticed during our meetings you’re often swamped with other work, is there another time to meet that might be better for you?”

      It’s totally plausible that Jane thinks she’s convincing ‘carring off’ multi-tasking in this way and has no idea it’s impacting her reputation. So it’s arguably a kindness to let her know that other people are realising, while also being aware that she might have a good reason you’re not privvy to.

      1. Cat Tree*

        I’d probably ask her directly over IM to pay closer attention. That way the whole group doesn’t get get scolded for the behavior of one, but she also doesn’t get called out in front of everyone. It’s a thing that is done sometimes at my workplace when someone forgets to mute themselves so it probably wouldn’t be a big deal here.

        1. Darth mofongo*

          You just have to consider the risk/reward as a peer in a way you wouldn’t need to as her boss (just depending on how you phrase it, etc).

          But if you were going to act, this is a solid way to do so to minimize the risks of blowback, I think.

    5. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Lots of interesting viewpoints on LW1’s situation! I’ll offer a different one about people who chronically “perform busywork” in team meetings…

      I rotate through new teams semi-frequently (project life) and there’s always a few in a large team who do this consistently at every team meeting (in person or virtually). I’ve observed it’s seldom the team members who actually *are* that busy or *must* be that available… it’s generally the ones who are underperforming.

      I’m not talking about people who do it once every now and then, or acknowledge it with an apology or an update about what’s so pressing on their end. It’s the ones who do it at Every Single Meeting no matter what – something else is usually going on with them. Could be a terrible sense of time management, obliviousness to the professional requirements of their role, problematic levels of self-importance… whatever it is those issues will inevitably manifest elsewhere too.

      This obviously might not apply to LW’s situation, but considering the bigger pattern of behaviour may be relevant if LW wants to bring it to the boss.

      1. Khatul Madame*

        I am with Cat Meme. I’ve seen this all too often.
        Whatever else is going on behind the scenes, the coworker’s actions are disrespectful toward the rest of the team and need to be called out.

      2. Julia*

        “a terrible sense of time management, obliviousness to the professional requirements of their role, problematic levels of self-importance…”

        I’d question how you know that “problematic levels of self-importance” are to blame for an underperforming coworker failing to pay attention in a meeting. It doesn’t sound like you have enough information to make that judgment, even in the case of people who are on your own team. In fact, it sounds needlessly judgmental and like you’re looking for the worst in someone because you’re annoyed at their behavior.

        Other possible explanations for your team members’ behavior: because they’re underperforming, they’ve lost interest in the work and are having trouble self-motivating. Or they don’t understand what’s going on. Or they’re overwhelmed by the work, since it’s too much for them, and are starting to check out. Or this isn’t the career for them, or they’re too busy applying to jobs elsewhere to focus on this one.

        Please have a little compassion.

        1. Yorick*

          Many of us have worked with people who are clearly performing being busy because it makes them feel/look important. If that’s Cat Meme’s perception of their own coworker, who are we to say that it’s wrong?

      3. Oxford Comma*

        I have four zoom meetings today. Three of which I guarantee you could have been handled via email. I have seven mandatory hour-long meetings tomorrow. SEVEN. In the one hour I do not have a zoom meeting, I will be eating my lunch and trying to regain my sanity. Most of those meetings could be handled via email or by a phone call.

        In the meantime, I have projects that aren’t getting done, emails that aren’t getting answered, and people waiting on me. So if I am not paying 100% all of the time it is simply because if I do, I’m going to fall hopelessly behind. I know it’s rude. I’ll try and turn off my cam so that it’s not apparent I’m doing it, but sometimes I don’t have a choice.

        Based on what I’m hearing from friends in a lot of other fields, what I’m describing is what our work lives have turned into. Now maybe Jane isn’t that over meetinged and maybe Jane has poor time management skills, but I just wanted to offer another perspective.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Right, I see more of the “problematic levels of self-importance” in people who tend to call multiple long meetings a day every day and invite everyone, or otherwise insert themselves into every meeting on the calendar; to the point where they start seeing meetings and work as one and the same, and are skeptical of any activity that is not a meeting being real work.

          I have seen coworkers complain (in meetings) that they’ve been working so hard, 8 hours of meetings yesterday, 7 scheduled for today, work work work is all they do, one meeting after another. I suspect there’s a performative element in all of this. If people see that you are in meetings every minute of every day, then that’s all the proof you need to show that you’re a high performer and a hard worker?

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            ETA: I meant the generic you – not Oxford Comma who has seven hours of actual meetings against their will – and I meant more the people who embrace this life and actively try to be included in, or lead, a ridiculous number of meetings, than the rest of us who end up being casualties of this approach (since you cannot have a meeting without inviting others).

      4. Nina*

        Wow this is inconsiderate. I definitely do do other things during meetings, but as others said its due to the number of meetings I’m in. I’m not at all a lower performer, please consider that people work differently. I do however answer questions immediately and am active in the conversation when required.

      5. Butterfly Counter*

        My take is similar to this.

        I admit that this scenario is maddening for me because in the Before Times, doing other work during full departmental meetings was a passive aggressive display of “I’m too busy and important for this, but I will deign to sit in the same room with you while I work on things that are Actually Important” by a few coworkers. The meetings were less than 2 hours and monthly or every 2 months. One of the worst offenders, when discussing lack of collegiality our department suffered had the nerve to suggest WEEKLY meetings so we could all get to know each other better. *eyeroll*

        I don’t know what else is going on with LW’s coworker. It could be that she’s in too many meetings, but I’m so used to inattention being used as weapon to signal superiority that it would drive me nuts and feel completely disrespectful of a coworker.

    6. Joanna*

      I am one of these people like OP#1’s problem child. To be blunt, I have too many meetings. I try to focus, but I’m at almost 600 unread emails and easily have 15 meetings/week (which is generally just M-Thu). If you’re not my boss and you start complaining that people aren’t paying attention, I’m just not showing up to your meeting anymore. I just finished meeting #2 for the day (it’s only 9am EST), I missed one because of that one, and I have more at 10, 1pm, 2, and 3….I love Mondays…

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        If you’re not my boss and you start complaining that people aren’t paying attention, I’m just not showing up to your meeting anymore.

        Oh, to have that option!

      2. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

        Love your response! And you described my work perfectly. Last week I had 19 meetings, and 4 of them were on video (rare for me). If I didn’t do some work during those calls I would never meet my deadlines.

        1. sunny-dee*

          This is a pretty average week, and I have 27 meetings scheduled. There is overlap in 3 timeslots, but that’s still a lot of meetings. About half are scheduled for a half hour, two are scheduled for 2 hours.

          For the small group / one-on-ones, I’m all in and focused, but for the larger group meetings? I’m multitasking.

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        I think the point is that it *is* affecting OP. They have to backtrack and repeat information whenever they have to ask the person not paying attention a question.If this is happening every meeting, I think it’s fair to bring up with the boss. If you’re speaking at a meeting and it’s obvious that someone is paying 0% attention and causes you to repeat yourself, that IS affecting your work (and morale, honestly).

  10. idwtpaun*

    #2, I was just thinking about this earlier today after spending some time surfing through AAM archives and seeing a couple of past letters on the subject. I was able to articulate for myself why I personally don’t think being a family caregiver (stay-at-home parent, primary caretaker of an elderly relative, etc.) should be a resume item. It’s not because it’s not work, it obviously can be very hard work and a showcase of applicable skills such a patience, attention to detail, organizational aptitude. But what it doesn’t require is a standard of workplace-appropriate/professional behaviour. You’re not accountable to anyone in a way that can get you fired and you can let your emotions get the better of you in a family situation in a way that you can’t in a workplace. And in LinkedIn’s case, I do think this is misguided, because it feels like it’s encouraging people to mix in personal information about themselves into what should be a strictly professional timeline.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Very well put.

      I don’t put ‘recovering from trauma’ in my CV to explain an over 2 year employment gap either. It might say something about me as a person that I did get better, but it’s not really relevant to how I fix a software issue.

      1. onco fonco*

        Yeah, exactly. I have done a lot of things that I’m justly proud of, but a CV isn’t just a catch-all place to put everything that’s great about me as a person – it’s place to tell potential employers about my work experience and skills. I am accountable for how I raise my kids and how I deal with life’s various adversities, but it’s completely different from the standard I’m held to as an employee. Not necessarily lesser, but so different as to be irrelevent in a work context. Much as the person reviewing my postgrad application doesn’t care about my amazing banana bread, or indeed my kids don’t really care about when I once pulled off a regular project in half the usual allotted time.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I know my nephews didn’t care a jot about what I did for a living….until I rattled off a whole list of commands and hex codes for their favourite game. If I got a testimonial off them it would probably be ‘best IT genius ever!’
          (Which I’m not. I’m lousy at unix)

      2. Sally*

        Hi Keymaster, I am curious how you usually explain this gap because I have something similar. I feel like any reasonable person would understand if I explained the actual issue but the actual issue is too personal to bring up in cover letters or interviews.

        1. Retail Not Retail*

          “Some health issues since resolved” is how I’ve worded the near mental breakdown that ended with me getting this “unskilled” job entirely unrelated to everything else I’ve ever done. I also was lucky in that my mom’s seizures were about 2 months away from being treated with brain surgery (didn’t happen – risks outweigh rewards right now). I have no hesitation in using words like that to shut stuff down! She also provides a handy reason for staying separate from my own mental issues ha.

          But yeah. Be vague! Emphasize that it’s resolved! They don’t need to know that it’s merely under control.

        2. Retail Not Retail*

          You also do NOT mention it in the cover letter, nor do you volunteer it because they probably don’t care, and if you do those things you will be expected to be more detailed because why bring it up?

          On the other hand, if I were to be interviewing for some job related to my childhood health issues, I may say, “as someone who had X (simple, not seen as negative/your fault)” but that kind of thing is even further from my background than what I’m currently doing.

        3. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Fair question, but I’m in the UK so it’s a little different with regards applying for jobs. In my CV there is no explanation at all for the gap(s) and we rarely have covering letters/resumes.

          For some jobs, where I’ve researched the firm beforehand and decided it’s ok, I’ll edit the CV to put a very vague explanation for the gap at the bottom (like ‘2018-2020 family issues now resolved’). Generally I don’t do this.

          It’s more common to be asked about the gaps at interview where I use the generic ‘health issues, resolved’ answer. I have on occasion mentioned the near fatal car accident that started it but like above it’s dependent upon the company/interviewer/job role (you’d be surprised how many places that require travel for the role get really funny about hearing you’ve been in a crash, even if it wasn’t your fault).

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            (Bit extra: the crash caused major psychological issues, which made my mind unstable, then 2020 happened and I went full nervous breakdown. I never say that to any employer. I am still unsure though if I should update my LinkedIn profile with explanation for gaps)

        4. Audrey Puffins*

          Not Keymaster, but I think this could come under the “dealing with a health issue” banner (with “which has since been resolved” if that’s true) that Alison often suggests.

          1. Retail Not Retail*

            I think it’s always going to be true* – you’re better enough to interview for a job!

            *actually in doing the vaccine study, they said my chronic pain is merely under control, it is not resolved since it will return without medication. So it’s rarely “true” per se, but it’s always true enough for an interview!

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              Worth noting that technically I am lying with the ‘resolved’ bit. Chronic pain, disabilities, PTSD etc never actually go away.

        5. TWW*

          I have a 3-year mental health gap. My go-to phrase in my cover later is, “After taking a professional break to care for family, I returned to the industry in 2015.”

          It’s a lie, but who’s going to check?

          1. Gumby*

            You are part of your family and you were taking care of yourself. As I see it there is no lie.

    2. Roci*

      Yes, I think there are many incredibly valuable things that people do in life that just don’t belong on a resume. They’re just not relevant to work in the career field you’ve chosen.

      I have a friend who organizes a fantastic group trip every year, coordinating with over 100 people across various provinces, tracking and collecting money, negotiating deals for rentals and cars and hotels, communicating with everyone in a thorough and timely fashion, stocking the bar and planning amazing parties… but that’s not relevant to his job/career at all. It would be weird to put that on his resume because there’s no way for anyone who hasn’t been on that trip to know it’s actually a big deal.

      That doesn’t mean there’s no value in doing it, and doing it well. It just means that not everything in life is related to work, and that’s OK.

      1. Kaiko*

        A resume isn’t a global document for every skilled thing a person has ever done, though. If he was transitioning into a different sector (event planning? travel and tourism?), he might put that on resume.

        I am an administrative coordinator, and for two years I also planned and marketed a quarterly dance party for parents and kids (mostly because I wanted to go dancing at a time that wasn’t *late*), and while I wouldn’t shout it out on a purely admin role, I would if I was applying for anything that had an event-planning or delivery component.

      2. Chinook*

        I agree about the resume and Cv, but I see LinkedIn as a different beast where “stay at home parent” is a place marker that explains a gap (though full-time caregiver wpuld allow for taking care of parents or spouse or even yourself for medical reasons as well). It also normalizes the idea of someone taking time off to be a parent regardless of gender (if it becomes widespread), or at least reduce the stigma of it.

        I wouldn’t want to see any more details than that status for all the reasons Allison mentions – what you accomplished or learned is irrelevant.

        1. LW #2*

          Yes, this is what I was wondering about! I thought maybe (?) it would be helpful as a one-line item on a LinkedIn profile to explain an employment gap, but Alison is probably right that encouraging this signals to people that full-time caregiving is a part of your career history in a way that it really isn’t.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Yes, I also think I rather like it for the same reasons you mentioned; that it helps explain a gap instead of making it look like something borderline criminal (I’ve sat at discussions of candidate resumes in the past where people were OMG THIS ONE HAS A GAP!) and I agree that it would be great to either make it more generic or add more “gap activities”, if you will.

          I came to the US with a gap from my home country (combo of being a SAHM, there not being jobs in my field in our small town, and employers having actual policies of not hiring women for positions in my field), and ended up stretching dates and filling my gap with bogus info. Otherwise my resume was getting rejected at the recruiter stage. (Even the actual part-time and temp jobs I had during that time, outside of my field, were considered not acceptable.) I would’ve been much happier if saying “I had a gap and this is why” was an acceptable option.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Want to add, by the time I ran into this problem in the US, I was already on my second job in my field here, with two years of US experience, and people were still like “But WHY did you work as admin assistant in another country five years ago?” making it sound like the admin assistant job would follow me around for the rest of my life like a dark stain on my career. Ridiculous, tbh.

        3. SoloKid*

          This is a good point that has somewhat changed my opinion. Resumes/CVs can still be tailored to the job; LinkedIn should be tailored to the person.

        4. TWW*

          I agree: LinkedIn is not a resume, its a networking platform. With that in mind, it makes sense that someone would want to indicate that they are currently a stay-at-home parent–that’s relevant info for other people with whom they might be networking, especially other stay-at-home parents.

          On my LinkedIn, I put some info related to my non-professional activities (such as classes I’ve taken, hobbies and travel) that I would not put on a resume. The reason I’m on the platform is to make connections with people, and a lot of my connections are through those other activities.

    3. Rain queen*

      I’ve not looked into this title/option but for people who are currently stay-at-home parents this seems like a simple option to say – right now this is what I’m doing.

      For some, it being obvious that while you are Senior Sales person right now you aren’t working in that role and so don’t be surprised when I don’t respond quickly is nice.

      Also, having options does help to normalise things. And so showing that many, many parents do take time to be a caregiver is a good thing. It will also allow others to see – oh super impressive woman in my field took a chunk of time away from work for all her kids – wow I don’t have to be back at work the next day if I want to succeed (all parents are entitled to leave as primary carer where I live).

      Sure it don’t belong under employment history but if you need to say what your current role is – it’s accurate.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I’m curious as to whether this is being presented as a career option on the resume, or as a reason for an employment gap. If it’s the former, I think it comes across as the latest variation of “CEO of Home”. If it’s the latter, and the choices are something like

        > stay at home parent
        > caregiver
        > unemployed
        > pursuing education
        > dealing with health issues
        > following spouse’s career
        > time off for personal pursuits

        then it makes more logical sense, but I’m not convinced it’s actually a good idea to highlight a gap like that on a resume – there are too many assumptions that people can make when they see the listing (e.g. mother of small kids or health issues implying someone who will likely be absent a lot).

        Overall, I don’t think having this as an option is going to destigmatize employment gaps caused by taking time off for parenting/caretaking reasons, and I think it’s going to highlight WOMAN WITH KIDS when it’s on a resume, and potentially hurt the applicant’s chances of getting an interview.

        1. Formerly Ella Vader*

          I was wondering if it would provide a thing that recruiters (including unscrupulous ones) could search on, and then contact people to say hey, do you want to MAKE MONEY AT HOME IN YOUR SPARE TIME mlm mlm mlm.

          1. LW #2*

            I didn’t think of that but you’re totally right – I’m sure it won’t take long for the huns to descend.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            They descended on my son, and all he said was that he was a recent college grad seeking an entry-level position in sales. Drove almost an hour one way to an 8AM “interview” only to find himself in a room with 50 other recent college grads, being shown a presentation on HOW TO BE YOUR OWN BOSS mlm mlm. My point is, they will still descend, but this is certainly something to watch out for if you know you have their favorite keywords (e.g., gap) on your LI profile; but I think we should keep listing them anyway, to normalize the gaps.

        2. LW #2*

          Yes, that’s a good point! If 100 men and 100 women have caregiving employment gaps, but 50 women list that on LinkedIn and only 10 men do, it’s likely to end up further prejudicing employers against women. (And, of course, there are far more full-time caregiver women than men, so the numbers would be disproportionate even if 100% of both populations included it.)

        3. Rain queen*

          I was thinking of it more as a current status option (Id probably delete from history), rather than a line on a resume (or LI career history).

          Whether it stays or not will depend on whether it is picked up.

          I agree with other posters that some will use this to discriminate. But then, such people will always discriminate, and this would provide a nice track record of discrimination. I choose to hide some things in my job hunts to reduce the risk of discrimination, so certainly understand if proper choose not to reveal things. But I respect those who choose not to hide things they could hide, as they are the ones that will bring us forward.

      2. Maree*

        I agree.

        It isn’t the norm now but maybe the world would be better if being a carer was as relevant as a minimum wage job (which goes on a resume). The personal/professional divide disproportionately impacts women.

        1. EPLawyer*

          But its not. At the minimum wage job you are accountable to someone who has the ability to fire you. You get regular feedback (presumably).

          Caregiver for a family member, well you rarely get fired from that. There is no accountability except to other family members (and ooooh boy who got Great Aunt Lucinda’s ring when you know Margery wanted it is talked about for DECADES). It’s not a job. It’s being a family member.

          Your resume is your professional accomplishments that FIT THIS ROLE, not an exhaustive list of what you have been doing since you finished high school.

          1. Sylvan*

            Okay, but this has clear, negative consequences for caregivers (mostly SAHMs) applying for jobs. Maybe providing a short, one-bullet-point mention of what they did between, say, that job in 2011 and this job application in 2021 could help.

            (Note: I don’t have kids! I just wouldn’t want any parent I know to have a hard time applying for jobs because of an “unexplained” period of “unemployment” on their resume.)

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              This is where I stand too. My kids have careers of their own and the gap that I once had has rolled off my resume years ago (no one wants to know what I did in the 90s if we are in 2021), but I hated it when I was being penalized for it, and want other parents or caregivers to have an easier time than I did. To EPLawyer’s point, to have their resume be their professional accomplishments that FIT THIS ROLE, not a starting point for a discussion on “where were you between 2008 and 2010? why? don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

        2. Engineer Woman*

          EPLawyer said exactly what I want to: with a job, there will be a way to determine if you are good or not. Employers can determine if someone else is more suited. They can fire you if you do poorly.
          However bad a job you might be at “stay-at-home mom” or “stay-at-home dad”, nobody is going to fire you and get a new or better one. And who will vouch for how well you organize your kids play dates and the fantastic dinners you cook while juggling the diaper changes and housework? I don’t think those people can be objective. Parenting is a very difficult job, just not one that should be on a CV in my opinion.

        3. LW #2*

          I don’t think it’s as relevant as a job (for the reasons Alison says), but it very badly needs to be unstigmatized.

          1. Triplestep*

            Interestingly, when I heard this discussed on NPR, the person from Linkedin being interviewed said the term “Homemaker” is outdated. If that’s true it’s really too bad – it’s a more accurate description of the person in charge of running the household than a term that defines their role by relationship to the children.

            I graduated college in the eighties during the time of “you can have it all.” The term “Stay-at-home-Mom” gained popularity in the nineties during the backlash of “you can have it all”, probably as a way to destigmatize the choice to leave the paid workforce to run the family home. I believe that the idea of defining the role around children was meant to elevate the role in the eyes of society – there are many examples throughout history of using language or design to elevate status, but this time it backfired. The term now seems inextricably linked with the participation trophy generation who had too much parental management.

            1. Rach*

              Homemaker is outdated, imo. My home is not any less of a home for my kids because I work. And I still have to run my household just as much as parents who do not work outside the home. A stay-at-home parent is a more apt title and there isn’t anything wrong with staying home with kids (I did before my kids were in school) but I can see why people think homemaker isn’t a great.

    4. londonedit*

      I agree. I know some people use LinkedIn like any other social media site, but for me it’s for work only. My LinkedIn only has my work information on it. If it was me, I’d probably choose a more general job title like ‘Llama Grooming Professional’ or something and then in the little introductory paragraph I’d say ‘Currently a stay-at-home parent. Skilled llama groomer with 20 years’ experience, including 5 years specialising in hoof polishing. Won the 2018 Llama Groomers’ Association Hoof Painter of the Year award’. So you’re mentioning the fact that you’re not currently in the llama grooming workforce, but you’re mainly highlighting your career experience. Otherwise it definitely gives off a ‘CEO of My House’ vibe.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        That wording I like. I’d love to try and work it into my past situations (‘currently out of work and not looking due to medical reasons’ sounds…off though. Any idea?)

        1. DyneinWalking*

          I’m not quite happy with the exact phrasing, but I’d put it as something like “Currently not employed in order to deal with personal matters. Expecting to get back to the work force by [month, year].” (Or whatever vague estimate you can give).

          1. Morticia*

            That works. It covers stay at home parenting, and the many people I have worked with whose stocks vested and they took a couple of years off to do whatever. It also covers prioritising education, your own health, your family’s health, etc. It’s wonderfully vague.

          2. londonedit*

            Yes I think ‘currently taking time off’ or maybe ‘currently on a career break’ would get the message across without specifying what you’re taking a break for.

      2. LW #2*

        I didn’t think of this when I was writing my question, but I have a former colleague who left the company to be a full-time stay-at-home-dad, and his profile says “on sabbatical.”

    5. Nic*

      But the same is true of self-employment. No-one would argue that that should be off the CV.

      (And like self-employment, I’d argue that you still are accountable to the person/people you’re caring for, just as you would be to a more formal client. Does it play out in an identical way? No of course not, bit I do think it counts.)

      1. onco fonco*

        You are accountable, but how would you ever demonstrate successful performance? You have to be pretty horrendous as an unpaid carer or parent before you get fired from that role, and who’s going to give you a reference? My five year old would tell them to hire me because I’m nice and squishy. Whereas my freelance clients can and will speak to the quality of my work.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Accountability is the big thing. Could I provide a note from my psychiatric team that says I’ve done extremely well? Well, yes, but it’s irrelevant in a work context because there’s no business relationship there.
          Could I give testimonials from people I’ve sold bits of my sewing too? Kinda, but it’s irrelevant to my work (IT) and I only sell to people I know are going to appreciate my work.
          In both cases there’s no risk of a negative feedback that’ll impact my financial situation or career.

          1. onco fonco*

            Exactly. And it’s not even that business is inherently higher stakes than the personal stuff. Getting over trauma/managing mental health is a big stinking deal. And I consider parenting to be about the most important thing I do in terms of the depth of impact my actions have. I am committed, thoughtful, I show up, I organise, I plan, I really really care – all good stuff you’d want to see in an employee. But no one except me is tracking that, no one can confirm it, and barring a really horrible situation no one can fire me. I’m deeply accountable to the kids but they are hardly objective about my performance, I’m their mother! And if they turn round in 20 years and tell me I did a terrible job and had a huge negative impact on them, well, frankly I’ll be a broken husk of a human but it will still be a personal matter and inherently different from employment.

      2. DyneinWalking*

        No, it is not. Even when self-employed you are offering a product and service to other people (the clients) who presumably will judge you based on your performance, reliability, professionalism, etc.

        I’d say a good rule of thumb is considering whether your work performance or your person and personal relationship is more important for maintaining the role.

      3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Self-employment typically implies that you’re earning enough from clients/contracts to support yourself. In that sense, you are accountable to your clients.

        Now, obviously there are some ‘self-employed’ people who play fast-and-lose with the definition of employeed, but in most cases the obligations/accountability you have to clients is going to be demonstrably different and more work-related than the accountablity you’d have to those you’re caring for.

      4. meyer lemon*

        The other piece is relevance. Even paid jobs that are very difficult may not belong on your resume, if they don’t have anything to do with the job you’re applying for. I’ve never worked as hard as when I was a housekeeper for a motel, but I wouldn’t put that on a resume for a technical writing job.

        In cases where it is relevant on the surface, you also have to deal with the fact that the similarities between personal obligations and professional ones are usually pretty superficial. If you include it, you just seem like someone who doesn’t understand what the job really entails. Being able to keep my own bathroom relatively clean isn’t exactly the same thing as sanitizing 15 motel rooms a day (and dealing with all of the incidental weirdness that comes with that job).

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Good point on relevance. I know it’s a bit different in the UK but my long ago job as a virologist barely takes up two lines on my CV, unlike all my IT roles after my career change which are more detailed.

          Some of the skills might have transferred? I dunno. There’s not much about pippetting technique that says I can get your servers back online.

      5. TWW*

        Self-employed people are accountable to clients/customers, vendors, collaborators and employees. There’s any number of people that you could serve as a professional reference.

        (I suppose it’s possible to be self-employed without developing any professional relationships with other reputable people or companies. But that’s probably something you should think about if you ever plan to go back to working for some one else.)

    6. Andy*

      I dont see how it would harm here. It is not like the person would be pretending to do work that requires tie and clocks in at 8:00. The full information is there, unlike in the case of an empty gap.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        The harm is that it signals someone who looks out-of-touch with workplace norms. That’s not an ideal message to send, especially if you’re trying to transition back in after having been out of workplace for a few years. You could certainly explain a gap in employement in your cover-letter, but it’s not traditionally mentioned in the resume, where there is often limited space.

        1. Andy*

          The norms are shifting. Linked adding that option is the force that is triggering possible shift with force. And part of this discussion is about “which norms make sense and which are beginning to be outdated at this moment.”

          Also, the argument I responded to was following: no, because “doesn’t require is a standard of workplace-appropriate/professional behaviour. You’re not accountable to anyone in a way that can get you fired and you can let your emotions get the better of you in a family situation in a way that you can’t in a workplace.” That is what I argue against – that the above is not reason to keep it out, because no one is getting misled about “professional behaviour”.

          And also lets not pretend that people in workplaces dont get inappropriately emotional or that they have better emotional control then stay at home mom. That part is frankly, pure sexism/bias.

          1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            I may have been a bit confused about the nesting then; I had interpreted a ‘whats the harm’ as in it would be a harmless thing to include on a resume, and I would disagree with that.

            I agree with your broader stance, if I’m reading you right. People can be strategic in their choice to rebel against this particular norm, as we have done with other things (like unnatural hair colour in interviews, woman wearing pants, etc.). But there is an individual cost to rebelling against the norm, even if it is shifting, so I wouldn’t dub it ‘harmless’ per se.

            (Of course, there’s also an individual cost to adhering to the norm, so it’s really a pick-your-poison sort of deal.)

            1. Andy*

              You are reading me right in this comment. I had the broader stance.

              I was not trying to imply that no one will underestimate you or have weird biases once they know you was stay at home. Many people will, so you have to weight it against a gap, against how difficult it is to find a job etc.

          2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            that the above is not reason to keep it out, because no one is getting misled about “professional behaviour”

            Hit submit too soon.

            To this point – I don’t think anyone would suggest that putting a time as a stay-at-home parent is misleading or dishonest in some way. BUT it could imply that the canidate doesn’t realize that there’s a difference between being held accountable to your family (who presumably love you and have long-standing ties with you and would work carefully with you if you were struggling with lateness or finances, or whatever) and being held accoutable in a workplace.

            Being accountable to loved ones/spouse/children and being accountable within a business arrangement are decidedly not the same thing.

          3. idwtpaun*

            I didn’t say people at workplaces have better emotional control than stay-at-home moms (for one thing, I specifically wrote my post about all sorts of home-care arrangements and made sure to use “parents”, because this isn’t about singling out moms!), but at work, I’m expected to maintain a certain level of civility or even pleasantness with clients and coworkers no matter how hard of a day I’m having. It’s true that there are bad workplaces where people are not held to that standard, or where employees are but bosses are not, etc., but I don’t think a toxic workplace (or just an unprofessional one) should be used as a counterargument. If I were to be a stay-at-home parent, or to take care of a relative full time, I would not have to account to other family the way a hired nanny/nurse/aid would have to, and I wouldn’t have to maintain a professional demeanor with my family the way people hired to do it as a job would have to. And I happen to think that this point is very relevant to resumes/professional experiences/job seeking.

            I also approach the LinkedIn thing from a different point of view. Instead of seeing it as norm-breaking, I see it as violating my personal/professional boundary.

      2. content lady*

        I think it could be harmful, because the whole “working mom vs. SAHM” thing is really loaded issue. I wouldn’t want to be a SAHM being interviewed by a woman who has a negative opinion of women who take time off to be home with their kids, for whatever reason, valid or not valid. I think it can absolutely put you at disadvantage–and, it really doesn’t have any bearing on your potential to perform in an office setting whether you took time off or had a 12 week maternity leave.

    7. No Name Today*

      Question: Is it “stay at home mom” or “stay at home parent”?
      Reading the question, I was at first uncomfortable/annoyed by the way this forced a woman to share personal life details, and by how patronizing it was. Why isn’t it “parenting”?
      Which led to my question. Is it mom and/or dad? Or is LinkedIn subtly perpetuating the idea that only women can and do take care of their own children?
      This is why I think it was a good intention, but a terrible idea.

      1. Mostly Managing*

        My understanding is that there are a series of options.
        Stay at home mom.
        Stay at home dad.
        Caring for elderly relation.

        1. No Name Today*

          Thank you.
          Then I’m going to throw my support to the side that thinks the whole section is inappropriate overall.
          My family situation, like my health, is not part of my resume.

        2. Hekko*

          Follow up question (though it should be LinkedIn answering it): why isn’t it simply “caring for a family member”, which pretty much covers all of this, and even caring for a dear friend with a little stretch (considering the friend a family), isn’t linked to any gender, and is about as informative for a potential employer as is necessary?

          The employer is just interested in seeing that there was a legitimate reason for the employee to have a gap in their resume, the specifics are unimportant.

          1. F as in Frank*

            This! I was coming here to say this. The information should be general and gender neutral. If it is important that parenting be separated, it should definitely say stay at home parent (not mom/dad).

          2. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I’d love something that would also encompass ‘caring for myself’ but that ‘caring for family member’ would *technically* cover it I suppose?

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              What about something like “caring for a family health situation”? You are a part of your family, after all.

            2. TWW*

              In my cover letters, I say “caring for family” even though I was caring for myself. I think it’s an acceptable lie.

              No prospective employer has ever asked me for details on who I was caring for, or what kind of care I was giving.

    8. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I agree about certain life events not belonging on a resume, but I come from a more cynical place after 40-ish years in corporate recruiting. I call it ‘handing out ammunition,’ and I’ve had far too many hiring managers hold that experience against candidates. Even in the past few years, great candidates were ignored because, ‘Well, they were out for a year, and in our industry that’s more like 5 years…’ and other nonsense.

      People will react badly to an absence from the workplace even if you were in an accident or caring for a sick parent – yes, I’ve had to fight against that kind of decline, too. But there are still some employers who think caring for children is a ‘women’s issue’ and not a ‘family issue’, and they won’t even talk to the candidate. If you’re thinking, wow, that’s a lot of misogyny and chauvinism, then I wrote it right. It isn’t as widespread as it used to be, but it’s still out there.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        There’s a lot of this sexism still about – I saw it briefly in the firm I currently work for when they automatically assumed my (2+ year) absence from the workplace MUST be because I’ve had kids and stayed home because, you know, I have a uterus. My manager has since said though that my ‘it was a near lethal car crash actually’ statement to him in my early days here really gave him a different perspective on how he’d been subconsciously judging all women as mothers.

        And small though that is, I’ll take it as a victory.

    9. Dust Bunny*


      A friend of mine applied for a job as a teacher’s aide and was disappointed that she didn’t get it, but her resume was full of “mom skills”. What she *hadn’t* included was that she volunteered for an after-school program as a van driver and chaperone, because it “wasn’t a job”! She literally had it backwards.

      We encouraged her to update her resume and reapply if the position, or a similar one, opened again.

      1. LW #2*

        Yes, I feel like this is the advice that stay-at-home-moms really need! Forget “Family CEO”; what volunteer or community work have you done that demonstrates useful professional skills? Of course this won’t be possible for everyone, but there are lots of volunteer roles that can be done from home with minimal time commitment, and it can give you more to build up a resume if you don’t have much work history or need something more recent.

    10. Emilia Bedelia*

      I think the distinction here is that Linked In is not intending for you to treat your profile like a real resume. They almost certainly see it as a way to “get to know” a candidate more and see the fuller picture of who they are- almost like a hybrid cover letter/resume. I think the “stay at home parent” option provides an option for people who want to explain a resume gap somewhere without having to actually put it on their real resume. If you already have your entire professional history on your profile, it will look a little strange to have a 4 year gap on there. Adding a SAHP option is just answering a question that will come up to anyone who cares enough about resume gaps to notice.

      My own LinkedIn has a lot of things that are not on my real resume – unrelated student jobs, college clubs/organizations, groups that I’m interested in/following, etc. Why would I bother updating it to take off those things? If you’re trying to keep your resume to 1 page, it makes sense to be extremely judicious about what goes on, but Linked In doesn’t have that limitation.

      My tutoring job from 10 years ago probably doesn’t add anything substantial to my candidacy right now, but if someone is already interested enough in me to be looking at my Linked In, it’s a moderately positive data point in addition to the actual relevant experience that’s on my resume. Likewise, a hiring manager looking at a profile might think “Why hasn’t this person worked in 4 years? Red flag!” and be turned off… but a simple “Stay at home parent, 2017-2021” makes that reason obvious.

    11. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yes! A SAHM can be doing tons of educational activities with her kids, cooking tasty nutritious meals twice a day and making all their clothes, or just lazing about watching TV while the kids break everything.

  11. Former Online Dater*

    OP #3, I had this exact thing happen to me on eHarmony a decade ago. They required real first names (not an initial) and wouldn’t let you change your name after you created your profile. I contacted customer service and explained what had happened and that I did not feel safe, and they made an exception and changed my name for me to just my initial.

    1. BubbleTea*

      This makes me cross. You shouldn’t have had to get an exception, they should have safety built into their system! It isn’t hard to require first names but allow a display name, if the goal is to verify ID or something. There could even be a way to reveal your actual name once you’re matched, if you choose, but otherwise stick to your display name for everyone else. It is just lazy of them not to consider this aspect of the very real danger some people face online.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        To be fair that was a decade ago. Does anyone know if the site still follows the same policy? Or have they updated with the times too?

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        The one and only time I used Tinder, it copied your first name and your job title from your FB profile to your Tinder one and I hated it. I don’t like having my job information on FB, and at the time, I had two cats and two pet rats living in my home, and had my job listed as “CEO of Cats and Rats, LLC”. Which Tinder happily displayed on my profile. I had to update FB with my actual job title. Hated it and changed it back the first chance I had.

        1. Shan*

          I’m practically crying laughing over that job title right now… I think it was the “LLC” that really took me over the edge.

      3. Annony*

        Yeah. I think that they were so focused on trying to make catfishing harder that they forgot about the safety concerns with online dating.

  12. Check Everything*

    LW1, that’s really frustrating! But if all that is happening is that someone has to repeat a question sometimes, and that’s it, I’d follow Alison’s advice and leave it alone. The bigger question is probably why your coworker is working during meetings? If she is overworked, does she even need to be in these meetings in the first place, or does she only need to be in some of the meetings, or none of them? Can she just be sent the meeting minutes later?

    LW4, employers like that are infuriating. I’m so sorry that they pulled that stunt on you. Depending on which laws apply to you, it can be a case of the time limitations commencing when you became aware of the misclassification and it being illegal, rather than when it was actually committed. But you would need to check on this!

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, the response to LW1 really depends on whether the coworker is so overworked that she has to keep working on other things during the meeting, or if it’s just a case where they think the meeting is a waste of time and working on other things is a way to show that she’d really rather skip the meeting altogether. Obviously she needs to be there at least some of the time, because people have questions for her.

      If it bothers the manager, he should do something about it, because he’s the one who has the authority to tell her to stop working on other things and focus on the meeting. I got the feeling that the boss is also attending the meetings, so I’m wondering why he hasn’t said anything if he’s so bothered by it. Either the boss is simply a bad manager or he knows that the coworker has so much work to do that she can’t focus on the meeting all the time and lets it go.

      Unfortunately I think the LW is rather stuck here, if the boss doesn’t intervene.

      1. Check Everything*

        I agree with you. Although I do think a lot of it probably depends on if the questions being asked of the person are the kind that can be dealt with in an email or whatever during the week, or if they are critical enough that they actually need to be asked in a meeting in front of the whole team.

        Either way, it’s up to the person’s boss, not the LW, to deal with. LW can speak with the person’s boss about it, but how useful that will be, or whether it is a good idea, depends a lot on the information that isn’t in the letter, and might even be stuff the LW doesn’t know themselves (such as how heavy this person’s workload actually is).

        I do think you’ve nailed it here perfectly: “Either the boss is simply a bad manager or he knows that the coworker has so much work to do that she can’t focus on the meeting all the time and lets it go.”

        Unless it’s causing serious and consistent disruptions, it’s probably best that LW lets it go.

      2. MK*

        Sounds to me that the boss isn’t bothered because her inattention causes work problems, but because it is disrespectful; which, don’t get me wrong, it is, even if the meetings are a waste of time, they apparently are a work requirement, and the coworker being disengaged actually wastes even more time. Even if she is overworked, she should find other ways to deals with this, not make it more difficult for everyone else.

        However, I am not convinced it is actually causing problems for the team: apparently other coworkers find it amusing, the boss, while bothered (and are you sure you aren’t projecting here OP?), isn’t addressing it and the OP has no status to do so. If, as Check Everything said, it’s just a case of people repeating a question once in a while, let it go (and accept that if your boss won’t do his job, he isn’t particularly deserving of respect).

        1. Dog Mom*

          “However, I am not convinced it is actually causing problems for the team: apparently other coworkers find it amusing, the boss, while bothered (and are you sure you aren’t projecting here OP?), isn’t addressing it and the OP has no status to do so.”

          I agree so much with you on this point, MK.

          I understand why LW1 is annoyed, I really do. But if the only actual problems this is causing is that a question directed at Jane has to be occasionally repeated once, and LW1 is (again, understandably) annoyed, then this is a pretty minor workplace issue.

          If Jane’s missing important information from the rest of the meeting, that’s a different issue, of course, but from the facts provided in the letter, that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

          A really simple workaround could be to either email Jane the important questions as needed, or to schedule meetings with Jane where her input is actually required either all or most of the time, and save basically every question for her for those meetings.

      3. Rez123*

        Yep, I go for a run during department meeting cause I know I don’t need to talk and the meeting never has anyhting that needs my full concentration. Similarly I do low intensity tasks during team meeting cause 10min are actually worth concentrating. Rest is either total waste of time or something that could have been an email.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          So this is funny because I often run when I have to listen to meetings (but know I won’t talk) because I concentrate BETTER on a run when I don’t have the temptation of email!

      4. Jerry Larry Terry Gary*

        If you need to ask her a question, just make sure you have her attention first. Less personally annoying.

        1. No Name Today*

          This, “hey Jane, I have a question for you.”
          And then make your statement and finish with the question.

        2. LadyByTheLake*

          I so agree with this. My role is such that I am often invited to All The Meetings in case people may have a question for me (Legal). 90% of the meetings are not relevant to me. I can’t get my work done unless I multitask while keeping half an ear out for when I need to tune back in. It is understood that when people need to ask me a question they should make sure they get my attention first or they are going to have to repeat themselves.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Agree on #1.
      Maybe she doesn’t need to be in this meeting.
      Maybe this meeting doesn’t have to happen at all. “This meeting should have been an email” is often the way to go.

  13. Not Australian*

    I’m way beyond the dating stage – been happily married for a long time – but *have* had to use a completely different name for professional reasons. Yes, when you transition to using your real name with someone, it’s slightly awkward at first, but I think of it as being like an actor who has to adopt a different name – Hugh Bonneville, for example, who is really Richard, or Michael Caine, who is really Maurice. It’s fine to interact with people using your ‘outside name’ until you’re perfectly comfortable with them; then, if you like them enough, you can tell them your ‘inside name’. If this makes you uncomfortable, you can say from the outset that ‘for the time being you can call me Val’, which doesn’t make you guilty of a falsehood so much as a piece of perfectly understandable caution.

    1. allathian*

      Mmm, or the large number of women who use their maiden name professionally because they’ve become established in their careers before getting married but prefer using their married name socially. Some even keep their former married name, as Agatha Christie did. She established herself as a writer during her marriage to Archie Christie, and kept it after their divorce as many women do, especially if there are children, and continued to use her old married name professionally even when she married Max Mallowan. My MIL kept her married name when she got a divorce 30 years ago because she wanted to have the same name as her children, and when she married her current husband, she added his name as well.

      But yeah, if you have an easily seachable name, it’s only prudent to use an alias when you start dating someone new, and if they don’t understand why you do that, it’s just another reason not to go on any more dates.

    2. Wendy*

      I’m a romance author. I write under my own name – I’m lucky enough not to be working somewhere that would fire me for including sexytimes in my books – but a lot of authors would face work or family pressure if they didn’t use a pseudonym.

      Among my romance author friends in general and queer romance authors specifically, probably half write under some variation of their real name (abbreviated, nickname, maiden name, childhood name, etc). It’s really, really common for writers to go by their pen name for public events and social media, and only use their legal name with very good industry friends who have known them in real life a long time. It’s a trust thing: if I tell you I write as Wendy but actually go by Gwendolyn in real life, will you blurt that out on Twitter by mistake? Will you brag to people that you know the famous author Wendy Smith but oh, actually her name is Gwendolyn Smithers? (Heh, I’m not exactly famous, but maybe someday!)

      There are a million reasons to not go by your full legal name on the internet, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation. If a potential partner can’t get over the idea, they’re probably not a keeper anyway :-\

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        You’ve given me the courage to admit I write smut and erotica – but under a name nobody can ever trace back to my real name, my name here, my other online pseudonyms…

  14. Allonge*

    So, for LW1 I am not sure about the second part of the advice (agree to not do anything else). Yes, there are meetings where everyone’s undivided attention is needed, but there are also plenty of meetings where there is a possibility to divide your attention between subgroup C reporting on Zoom where you only need the highlights and, say, updating table 2 with the latest transactions or other mindless task – as long as you manage to follow well enough what is being said that you can answer questions directed at you.

    For these latter, it will not actually go faster if everyone pays attention. In this case the problem is that Jane cannot effectively multitask but tries to anyway (for workload or whatever issues). So a call for everyone to drop everything else is not going to help a lot overall.

    In these cases I might still ask Jane (not in the meeting but privately) if if would be possible for her to pay more attention in the meetings, as this is a bad look. In some relationships this can be done even as a peer, if I wanted to do something and the manager is not willing.

    1. AprilShower*

      If the rest of the meeting is of no interest or use to Jane, making her stop doing work is not going to help. She’s just going to look like she’s not doing anything else and still going to be mentally away. And Jane is going to be resentful that she’s wasting time in a mostly useless meeting instead of at least getting some work done.

      1. Allonge*

        Yes – that said a good manager would indicate to her that this is an issue, that small things like this, if repeated, have an impact on her perception.

        I was also wondering if the meeting has an agenda and someone indicating when they are switching from one topic to another that might indicate to Jane and other multitaskers when it’s time to listen up a bit. It can help quite a lot if someone is at all paying attention.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, I agree. If the meeting is about things that mostly don’t require any input from Jane, it would be better to signal more clearly when she needs to listen, before you have to repeat yourself.

    2. Rain queen*

      I wonder how much of the meeting is useful to Jane. Is it lie that she’s there for the 1-2 questions relevant to her? And so the lost time could be solved by simply saying – Jane I’vea question about … to gain her attention before asking?

      1. Allonge*

        Honestly the issue could be that Jane does need the info, but it’s not predictable when. In our weekly team meetings, at least every other week one discussion ends up with our admin assistant needing to set up a specific meeting for a particular matter. But it starts like ‘hey, so X is happening next week, let’s Y or Z’ blah blah blah and then it ends with ‘Lorelei, can you set up that meeting?’. So for these, it’s a bit tricky to figure out when to say ‘Lorelei, you need to start listening now’ and it’s still totally reasonable that she is there, paying attention for the whole meeting. It’s just an example, of course, but things are not always super clear cut.

        1. DarthVelma*

          Couldn’t the person leading the meeting that needs to be scheduled email Lorelei asking her to set set it up?

          If the admin is only getting assignments out of your team meeting about once every other week, having her attend seems like a huge waste of her time when y’all could email her afterward with anything you need her to do.

          1. Allonge*

            In this case, no, because the person leading the team meetings is our head of department and the admin assistant is supposed to be making her life easier (head is 100x busier), not the other way around. Also, the team meeting is just about the only way to get speaking access to each other these days (this will pass the moment we are back to the office, but for now, it is what it is).

            In any case, after some thinking my point is more that there are meetings held for a billion reasons and in a billion setups, so it’s quite frustrating to have a general conversation about it – there are thousands of people sitting in unnecessary meetings in every moment and at the same time thousands of people wishing that they could talk to people in a meeting instead of in an endless email chain.

            1. Annony*

              True, but it would be weird for a coworker to call Lorelei out on it instead of the department head. Just like in the letter, the boss should be the one to make the call of whether there is a valid reason for someone to be distracted in a meeting or if it is a performance issue that has to be addressed.

          2. EventPlannerGal*

            I wonder if this is partly a difference in overall working styles. My team is extremely collaborative and it’s expected that everyone should have a general awareness of what’s going on throughout the team so that you can jump in if needed. In a meeting there might only be a couple of direct questions or action points for me, but I’m expected to be there and listening to the conversation so that I know that X is with Jane, Y is with Sam, Anne is waiting on F so that she can move forward with Z etc etc. That way if something comes up in my work that affects X, I don’t have to waste everyone’s time wandering around like “who has X? What is X? Is it important? What’s the background?” and so on. Like Allonge says, it isn’t clear cut whether specific things are immediately relevant to you – so tuning out for everything except things that directly affect you or asking someone else to email you a list of tasks just wouldn’t work on our team. It might work better on teams where people don’t require as much input from each other.

            (NB I’m not saying that my team’s way is the objectively correct way to do things, just saying that for us it wouldn’t be considered a waste of time to attend a meeting where you didn’t specifically get assigned a task, whereas I’m sure on other teams it would be. Maybe Jane and OP have differing expectations of what kind of environment this is.)

            1. onco fonco*

              This is how it’s tended to work for the teams I’ve been on, too. The main point of having the meeting is to bring everyone up to speed on the general state of everyone else’s work, so that we can jump in on the overlapping areas as needed. That need could come up any time, it’s not necessarily going to be in the form of an assignment there and then. I can’t just tune out until it’s my turn to talk.

              1. AzaleaBertrand*


                My team is pretty small and agile (hate that word!). One weak link not having at least a general understanding of what everyone else is working on can drag the whole team down. We’ve got a couple of really different learning styles in the team so making sure we cater to everyone and communicating in a way that is understood is a big focus for us.

            2. The Other Dawn*

              I agree with this and this is how our team meetings work, too. We’re a smallish team and meetings are used for updates. And sometimes we have things that come up that we need to talk out and make a decision, but the nature of the work makes it beneficial for all team members to be there listening. We meet maybe once every two week for an hour or less, so I don’t feel like that’s an enormous amount of time invested in meetings.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If *JANE* had written in, I’d be suggesting my department’s practice for our weekly meetings. If one of us is in a time crunch, we talk to our manager ahead of time and get called on first. Then the group is asked if there are any other issues for that person before they leave. Sometimes the person gets called back in later, but more often someone just gives a quick FYI message about any things that might actually an impact on that person’s work.

    4. Mockingjay*

      I am added to an excessive number of meetings “for awareness.” I always do other work when I’m dialed in, otherwise I’d never get anything done. I’ve tried declining some of them, but my project lead prefers to have me on all the calls.

      I’ve occasionally missed something, but I think everyone does. Even someone participating wholeheartedly can get distracted when a chat or email pops up, or another person wanders in.

      What’s really helpful: providing an agenda and sticking to it. That way I can half-listen until it’s time to discuss my particular project.

  15. High Bandwidth*

    I have a different take on OP1’s situation which I expect will be controversial, but I hope is a perspective that folks will consider.

    I take in and process information faster than average. I also find sitting passively with insufficient stimulation exceedingly unpleasant. Like, it’s almost physically painful. These are fairly common traits for some forms of ADHD.

    There are some meetings that provide enough relevant information at a fast enough clip that they deserve my full attention and engagement, in which case I am happy to give it. Unfortunately, those meetings are uncommon. More often, I only need a fraction of my attention to keep track of everything being said that’s relevant to me, and with the rest of it, I do something else on my laptop (I always sit in a corner at in-person meetings), because the alternative is that I get fidgety and ask too many questions and get pushy and become disruptive. Trust me, most of the time you don’t WANT my full attention.

    And to neurotypical folks, that may read as disrespectful, but this is where it’s gets messy, because it’s not about how I feel towards the other people in the room. It’s a matter of biology. My brain doesn’t work in a way that lets me just sit quietly and listen. (Unless it’s a firehose of information that leaves everyone else feeling overwhelmed.) And it is absolutely *agonizing* to try. So I focus most of my attention on something else and tune in just enough to chime in when I need to. Because that’s how I can balance fulfilling the duties of my job, being minimally disruptive in the meeting, and not going completely out of my skull.

    (If you’re thinking about commenting something along the lines of “you just need to practice,” please consider that this is on par with saying “have you tried not being sad?” to somebody with clinical depression. It’s not a matter of laziness or unlearned social skills; it’s a deep-rooted neurological difference. And I say this as somebody who has a lot of very good coping mechanisms that let me pass for neurotypical.)

    So it’s possible that OP1’s team member is trying to manage being in a meeting that is boring her to distraction and hasn’t yet mastered how much she needs to stay tuned in. In which case, yes, some feedback from her manager about tuning in more might be helpful. But other strategies to consider are things like whether the meeting could be run in a more focused and efficient manner, and whether everyone is needed at every meeting, and whether the meeting needs to happen as often as it does or even at all. Because those are changes that would be unobtrusive accommodations for anyone who struggles with staying focused, but that would also benefit everyone else, too…

    1. MK*

      The issue is that Jane isn’t fulfilling the duties of her job very well, because apparently she isn’t tuning in enough to do her part at these meetings. So even if it is a coping mechanism, it isn’t working well. Maybe it’s not a big deal if her input is only needed occasionally, but if it happens multiple times per meetings, it’s disrupting and another solution is needed.

      1. ceiswyn*

        Sure, but what High Bandwidth is saying is that having Jane just put her work away and try to pay attention may not be the solution everyone seems to think it is.

        I may have ADD (I have all the traits and score high on tests, but getting diagnosed as an adult is very difficult here) and I can see myself in Jane. I try to pay attention in meetings, but the boredom of trying to focus all my attention on one very slow input stream is actively painful and I literally cannot do it for more than about thirty seconds. If I conscientiously put away all distractions, all that happens is that I drift off into fantasising about where the speaker got that unusual ornament in their background or something, and am just as surprised and unprepared if I’m called on.

        So I’d say that if this is actually a problem, the first thing the boss needs to do is communicate the extent to which this is a problem, and be prepared to meet Jane partway because the coping strategies I have that work are onerous and sometimes read as disrespectful, and it wouldn’t be reasonable for me to break them out in every single meeting if other options may be acceptable.

        1. ceiswyn*

          (I should add that real life meetings are easier to deal with than Zoom ones, because the discussion is smoother and the input much richer. Zoom and WFH are likely exacerbating issues that were previously under control into actual problems. )

        2. Allonge*

          So I’d say that if this is actually a problem, the first thing the boss needs to do is communicate the extent to which this is a problem, and be prepared to meet Jane partway because the coping strategies I have that work are onerous and sometimes read as disrespectful, and it wouldn’t be reasonable for me to break them out in every single meeting if other options may be acceptable.

          I think this is very important. One of the ways this conversation often goes wrong is that parties do not acknowledge that the solution has to come from both sides – that the boss cannot just dicatate something and expect it to work, or that the employee cannot just expect the boss to read their mind about what would work. Both need to be proactive, once the issue is pointed out, to come up with a solution.

        3. Juniper*

          Reading these comments has been eye-opening. I too can find it agonizing to sit in meetings where information doesn’t come quickly or isn’t interesting/relevant, particularly when discussions around the information are dull and don’t lead anywhere. I’ve often noticed how people will quickly become engaged in figuring out this or that issue (and not necessarily at work, but in general), but unless I find it “worthy” of my attention I just check out. I’ve always thought I just had to work harder at paying attention, or caring. Even though sometimes it feels like I want to crawl out of my skin and the act of rallying my thoughts can be painful. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one, and that it’s not laziness or ineptitude.

          1. Georgia*

            “that it’s not laziness or ineptitude” – well, it’s not NECESSARILY laziness or ineptitude. It can be one or both of those too.

          2. Koalafied*

            When I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult I started crying in my psychiatrist’s office because of how much a relief it was to know I wasn’t just lazy or someone with a poor work ethic.

          3. Lynn Whitehat*

            So wait a minute. Are there people who don’t feel this way? Is that why there are so many boring meetings all over the place? I thought other people were just better at slogging through the boredom.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        We do not know this: Jane’s manager isn’t writing in about a problem employee. OP is a co-worker who is annoyed when someone has to repeat a question.
        For all we know, Jane’s manager is delighted with her multitasking.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If it were JANE writing in, and she said what High Bandwidth just said (i.e. she’s not badly overscheduled/on deadline), I would suggest that she doodle or knit or crochet whenever video feed turned off. Mindless doodles, not fine art. Repetitive rows of one stitch, not complex patterns.

          1. misspiggy*

            Sorry to ‘yes, but’ here, but that wouldn’t work for me as a similar type to High Bandwidth. It’s got to all be varied, engaging input. I guess if Jane is actuallt like me and High Bandwidth, she could take occasional notes from the meeting discussions as a way to keep engaged. Or, as I think someone suggested above, get Jane to be responsible for taking meeting minutes or action points. I would always volunteer for this to stop myself becoming painfully understimulated or rudely distracted.

            1. misspiggy*

              … And then of course, I had to negotiate being treated as the admin assistant when I wasn’t. So that’s far from foolproof.

              1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

                That’s always the rub, isn’t it? I think I’m finally “old enough”, as in “no longer look fresh out of school”, and no longer get to asked to type something for some near retiree regularly. Yes, it was always a near retiree who would ask me to type something for him, completely unrelated to my actual job. That last offender got a clipped “I’m an awful expensive admin, and that is not my job. Go find your admin on her lunch, or wait til she gets back.” because well, I wasn’t an admin, much less his, and I was in the middle of a phone-in contract negotiation when he butted in. Thank heavens for the mute button, pre-pandemic.

                Oh, and I keep a doodle book during Zoom meetings, as nobody really wants my full attention either unless its a project I’m heavily involved in for reasons similar to those mentioned by High Bandwidth. All day in-person chest thumping department meetings at job-the-previous were THE worst.

                1. Texan In Exile*

                  We had all-day accomplish-nothing meetings when I was a Peace Corps volunteer.

                  I started bringing my knitting. I couldn’t bear sitting for 8 hours and not getting a darn thing done.

          2. Lady Meyneth*

            FWIW, that wouldn’t help me. I’m not diagnosed with ADHD (but I do wonder if I should be tested), but mindless tasks don’t help me focus at all. I need the part of my mind that’s saying “boring, boring, let’s take a nap” occupied, and that only happens if I do something actually productive.

            I do agree Jane may need to find better ways to divide her attention and still keep some focus on the meetings. But as far as we or the LW know, the “better ways” Jane’s came up with may be super onerous, and reserved only for client meetings for example. Either way, it’s not on the LW to police her peers priorities if her boss isn’t bothered enough to speak up.

    2. Dog Mom*

      High Bandwidth, please accept this round of loud applause from me! Thank you for sharing this! As someone who wasn’t diagnosed with ADD/ADHD until I was 32, you have said exactly what I was thinking.

      If someone was in a wheelchair, you would not expect them to be able to take the stairs. “Can’t you just try harder to walk?” is not helpful. In the same way, asking someone who is not neurotypical to behave in a neurotypical way is literally asking the impossible.

      1. Liz*

        YES! I have difficulties with auditory processing and people get annoyed with me because they have to repeat questions, but what they’re telling me is “you need to process these sounds faster”.

        The best way to ask me a question is to address me by name, pause, wait for me to respond, and then proceed once I’ve refocused. This takes much less time and I would suggest this is a good technique for LW1 because it could potentially work for a wide variety of individuals and contexts.

        1. EchoGirl*

          Adding onto this, this happens even if I’m not also doing something else; if people have been talking about something that doesn’t relate to me and then want my input, it’ll take me a second to switch gears from just absorbing to actively participating. OP is assuming that needing questions repeated is a direct result of her multitasking, but that may not necessarily be the case; it could be two effects of the same root cause.

        2. Rach*

          Exactly, I often say “what?” and as they start repeating the question, it clicks and I interrupt them to reply. I don’t focus in meetings and it sucks. I try and I really hate that people have to repeat their question but when I’m not needed for 90% of an hour meeting, it just isn’t possible.

    3. BubbleTea*

      I have the same issue, although not diagnosed yet (long waiting list elongated by covid) and I resolve it by doing things that use a different bit of brain. If I work on other work, I miss things in the meeting. If I spend the time folding towels or sorting through papers to file/shred, I can focus on both tasks well enough. I did it at uni too – I’d read the extremely dry texts for one course while washing up. Two hated activities became bearable in unison.

    4. allathian*

      I read you. I haven’t been diagnosed with anything because I can manage well enough as it is. But I’m happy to be doing meetings on Skype, because I can play some silly puzzle game that doesn’t require a lot of focus like Candy Crush on my phone. I bring my notebook and a pen to in-person meetings. Nobody cares that I’m doodling rather than taking notes, but I suspect that playing games on my phone wouldn’t go down well… A coworker knits in all internal meetings, whether online or in-person, she’s always engaged and involved when she needs to be, so nobody cares that she’s knitting as well.

      I find that I have most trouble when I’m supposed to do online video trainings. I hate those, because at least on the learning platform my org uses it’s not possible to speed it up, and I read so much faster that listening to a video seems like a total waste of time. My feelings about this are negative enough that they don’t exactly promote learning, either, so it’s a bit of a vicious circle.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        “I bring my notebook and a pen to in-person meetings.”

        I used to write letters to my grandmothers.

        I hate pointless meetings so so much.

        The purpose of a meeting is to make a decision.

        * Define the problem.
        * Tell pe0ple what you want to accomplish in the meeting.
        * Accomplish it.
        * End the meeting early.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            The purpose of some meetings is to make a decision or decisions.

            I thought the purpose of meetings was to place a cap on productivity levels.

        1. onco fonco*

          Some meetings really are just to spread information around a group in real time so that everyone’s on the same page and can give any immediate response in the presence of the whole team.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            I hate those. :( I hate status meetings.

            That’s one of the reasons writing exists. So I don’t have to waste time listening to people when I could read the information in 1/4 the time.

    5. Freya*

      I was diagnosed with ADHD at nearly 40, and the only way I can survive meetings like this is drawing while note taking. Drawing is not my forte, but there’s little geometric thingies in the margins of all my notes, and diagrams to explain whatever was being talked about. Also poetry in the back of my notebooks :-) This goes back to primary school as a habit, so my notes have never been and never will be neat!

      1. Nicola*

        Google Zentangle you will be amazed how good you can be a drawing without actually being able to draw!

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Y’all, there’s nothing in the letter that indicates the coworker has ADHD and while it’s fine to note how that can affect things like this, some of the responses here are beginning to assume the coworker has ADHD or another neurodivergence, and I ask that we avoid replies that assume that’s a given. She may simply be doing other things during the meeting because she’s bored or overworked or running a fantasy football league or any one of dozens of possibilities. Thank you.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Like other commentors in this thread, I also have an ADHD diagnosis. And something I prefer is for my colleagues to not proactively ‘accomodate’ my ADHD in ways I haven’t requested.

        I realise other people may feel differently, but I think the best approach is the same regardless of the reason for inattentiveness: identifying the issue without judgement and looking for solutions collaboratively.

        Paradoxically, I wonder if encouraging letter-writers who are struggling with a colleage to be on the lookout for ADHD, ASD, clinical anxiety, etc. can backfire — instead of encouraging tolerance the way we hope, it can exacerbate existing stigmas. If we want to support neurodiverse employees, I think it’s best to start with suggesting actionable steps that are open-ended, non-judgemental and collaborative, while also taking seriously the barriers that OPs are running into.

        1. ADHD is really badly named*

          This is a great comment, I’d Rather Be Eating Dumplings.

          I have an ADD diagnosis. My boss (Dave) has ADHD and one of my direct reports (Sally) has ASD. All three of us were diagnosed as adults; my direct report and I are both women, and my boss is a man. Due to late diagnoses, all three of us have varying “masking” techniques we had to develop to survive in a world designed for neurotypical people.

          I was to emphasise here that the three of us are very lucky to be working together, and that we have been able to develop a working relationship where we are able to be productive while embracing the natural strengths of our conditions, and also ensuring that our weaknesses don’t leave us at a serious disadvantage. (This is helped by my two other direct reports, and another manager at my level who also reports to my boss, and – if needed – her two direct reports. They are very understanding neurotypical people who are excellent at their jobs, and we all balance each other out very well. It did, however, take some years to develop all of this.)

          Dave, Sally and I work on a lot of projects together with the rest of the team mentioned above, and the meetings Dave, Sally and I have together are, genuinely, the most enjoyable – and productive! – ones I have ever been part of in the 15+ years I’ve been working post-college. We get a lot done, but we have a lot of fun, too. All three of us fidget, look at stuff on our laptops (which is usually all three of us taking meeting minutes, which we later combine into a finalised version), draw doodles on our notes, and talk over the top of each other. None of this is meant as offensive behaviour. It helps all of us focus. I would be worried they’d zoned out if they were just looking at me politely but impassively. And yes, it often involves some of us repeating a question for someone, because we know that even though they were listening to us and were focused, they want to hear the question against to arrange their thoughts before they start replying.

          It likely comes across as barely-coherent chaos to many observers, but we have meeting agendas, we get through all our important discussion points, all the important information is shared, we very rarely end up going overtime, we update all our timelines, budgets and to-do lists, and we leave feeling energised.

          Obviously, meetings which include some or all of the rest of the above mentioned team are, shall we say, “calmer”. But this is because both sides are making accommodations for each other. The same way you’d make accommodations for someone who had a condition which impaired their hearing or sight or physical movement.

          And, sometimes, you really do just have to let petty annoyances go. Like how, when we all worked full time in the office pre-COVID, there were a couple of colleagues who always left a new toilet roll on the little shelf above the toilet roll holder, rather than just putting the new toilet roll into its holder. Is this annoying? Yes. But is it worthy of a massive campaign in the office where everyone is informed that they MUST put the new toilet roll into its holder? No.

          1. Forrest*

            >>talk over the top of each other. None of this is meant as offensive behaviour. It helps all of us focus. I would be worried they’d zoned out if they were just looking at me politely but impassively

            bwa haha, this is how I’ve always described the difference between my family and my partner’s family. My family: everyone talks over each other; the point is to be funny; you try two or three times to catch everyone’s attention with an anecdote; you have to be funny WHILST you’re telling it as well as have a good punchline or you lose the floor; but if you fail the conversation just quickly rolls back over you and nobody cares. My partner’s family: one person speaks at a time; if you start to speak everyone stops and concentrates on you. I CAN’T DEAL WITH THE PRESSURE.

    7. Forrest*

      I’m in this zone too. I actually can’t work whilst the conversation is going on and pay attention, because anything that is written is automatically 100x more fascinating and interesting and attention-grabbing than anything audible, so I’ll get absorbed in that and completely block out talking. (This was incredibly useful when I was a 12-year-old bookworm trying to read in the same room where my two younger brothers were watching TV, leaping around and shouting: now, not so much.) Working from home and having so many more meetings has actually been great because my office is also my sewing room, so I just pick up a bit of work and unpick a seam or pin a hem or gather a ruffle or something else that’s fiddly and requires attention but not deep thought, and it’s just perfect for stilling the the “must be stimulated!!!!!” bit of my brain.

      However, I don’t think this is necessarily changing anything for LW1, as she’s not in a position to tell Jane to adopt a different strategy for meetings!

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        For me it can go either way. I can ignore a whole movie or even something really important because I’m so engrossed in what I’m reading. But other times, when I’m concentrating on a very complicated case, I cannot have any background noise with words in it that I can understand. So no background chatter and no songs with lyrics in a language I can understand. I wasn’t diagnosed until my 30s either, so it was a struggle for a while.

    8. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I’m ADHD too, so I get this, but even Jane’s manager is annoyed because she isn’t actually processing the information she needs to keep up with the conversation. If I’m in a zoom meeting that I know requires my attention and participation, but I need some outlet, I play a game like solitaire on my computer or tablet as non obviously as I can. That way I am still following the conversation because the game keeps me busy, but doesn’t draw my focus away from the content. There are all kinds of things that might help Jane with ADHD, but these meeting clearly sound substantive in nature and require her attention and participation. So, whatever the cause, her manager needs to address it with her. That said, I don’t think OP has standing to do anything herself.

    9. Retired Prof*

      Thanks for this comment. I said something similar upthread, but you said it so much better.

  16. John Smith*

    #1, I’d be letting the coworker’s boss know only after trying to work out whether:
    A: she has a lot on
    B: she sees the meeting as pointless/irrelevant (or less important/relevant than the work being done)
    C: if B is true, whether it is reasonable or not.

    The reason I’ve chucked in B and C is because for meetings at my work, we may as well just copy the minutes from the last meeting but change the date. Plus, we have one person who attends most meetings but is so far removed from our work we wonder why he’s there (he’s not a manager, trainee, intern, admin etc).

    But in any case, any issue needs addressing. It’s just a case of whether it’s your coworker who is the issue or something else.

      1. JustaTech*

        I feel like there are 3 major categories of meetings:
        1) a small group sharing information with a larger group that doesn’t really respond or give input (an all-hands is an example)
        2) an information gathering meeting, were different people/groups on a team come together to share information on a project, but might not do more than share that information,
        3) a decision-making/ hash-it-out meeting, where you actually decide things (this vendor or that vendor, this item or that item, hire Sara or hire Sarah).

        1 Could absolutely be an email, but in my experience leadership wants to talk “in person”, also people are slightly more likely to pay attention at a meeting vs just not reading an email.
        2 Could be a series of emails, but you’re more likely to lose something in the shuffle, and there’s less opportunity to ask questions.
        3 Should be a live discussion (live meaning in person, on the phone, zoom), because it is a discussion.

        So it’s totally understandable if Jane is busy and tunes out 1 and even parts of 2, but if Jane’s tuned out to her part of 3 then it’s inhibiting both her work and other people on the team’s work. But since OP1 is Jane’s peer there isn’t much to do except maybe try to schedule Jane’s part of the meeting first?

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I’d say, in that Jane is being occasionally asked for input, so there’s clearly some information-gathering and decision-making going on.

  17. englyn*

    #1 – also what about asking Jane whether there’s something you all could do to make the meeting more useful for her? Maybe ask that of all the team. If people are really disengaged from meetings, there might be a way the meetings can be made more useful or engaging or at least a lot shorter. Or, she might be inconsiderate. But the first one might be easier to fix.

    #3 – the guy who sent an email to your work address, when you hadn’t given it to him, is not a gentleman. Red flag.

    1. Richard*

      #1 I had the same thought. I had this problem with a coworker a few years ago who would be on his phone throughout meetings. It was kind of annoying and distracting at first, but he still participated and I realized that the real annoyance was a set hour-long meeting with 15 minutes worth of agenda or a full agenda that only concerned a fraction of the people there. It’s worth asking if your meetings are being structured in a way that actually demands people’s full attention before you explicitly demand that attention. Could this meeting be an email or a slack thread or broken into smaller teams or optional?

  18. Thornus*

    #4 – Alison is mostly correct. The time for filing an SS-8 and amended 1040 is within 3 years of when the original return was due or 2 years of when the tax was paid, whichever is later. However, you said you’re not looking for restitution and are more concerned that they comply with the law. Good news! You can still file a form! Form 3949-A allows you to submit an anonymous Information Referral. The IRS will then investigate to determine if tax fraud has occurred. There are three different IRS statutes of limitation: 3 years (default), 6 years (a few small categories – substantial understatement of income, for instance), or unlimited (fraudulent returns).

    I don’t know enough, but the IRS may think misclassification is fraud. If so, that third category might apply. Therefore, even though you won’t get your money back, the company might still be investigated and possibly have to pay fines, etc. over the fraud. The IRS might also discover they’re still doing this as part of a scheme to temporarily misclassify people (“as a trial period”) then convert them over. It’s up to you to decide if you want to go through with filing that anonymous report though.

    1. Sweden*

      Not in the US, but I was thinking – even if it doesn’t help the submitter (in the case too late) – report it. If they did it 10 years ago they probably still doing it. Might help someone else.

    2. ADHD is really badly named*

      Thornus, I was thinking the exact same thing.

      OP4, I’d definitely check this out.

      You may also be able to make an anonymous complaint to the Dept of Labor, or one with your name attached. It may or may not help you personally, but it could spur an investigation into the workplace’s current and past practices.

      I’d probably also check if the time limits that apply in your state kick off from your actual time of employment, or if it is based around when you became aware of the illegal misclassification. (I don’t know if this applies in the USA, but there are certainly laws in place in other countries which work this way.)

      1. Thornus*

        It’s not really a Department of Labor thing, at least not federally. While the DoL gets involved in misclassification for issues like FLSA exempt/non-exempt or gets handles the ancillary issue when resolving Title VII or NLRB or similar Bigger Issues, this doesn’t sound like that. This is mostly just a *tax* issue. The IRS typically resolves it through form SS-8 and that process, but that would be untimely here. Hence the other form.

      1. Dream Jobbed*

        Probably too late to add my $.02, but you could also anonymously e-mail current employees with all the information on what to do if your employer is illegally classifying you as a contractor. Won’t get anything for you, but will help to stop them from doing it to anyone else.

  19. TiredMama*

    I have read this sentence several times and don’t understand what happened:

    I was chatting with one gentleman, who found out I was interested and unmatched and then sent an email to my work address that night.

    I understand, chatting, unmatching, and the email to OP’s work address, but what does “found out I was interested” mean in this sentence? Probably a sign I should go to bed.

      1. TiredMama*

        Oh chatting like talking with, unmatched as in unattached (not matched and then unmatched on an app). Turns out I didnt understand those phrases. Ha.

      1. TiredMama*

        Ah thank you, LW #3! I am also sorry you had to deal with that. I would be livid (and honestly scared).

  20. PspspspspspsKitty*

    LW 1 – If your work is being interrupted or you aren’t getting the support from your peer, then please have a conversation with your boss. If it doesn’t affect you at all, then let it go. I don’t know the details of this interaction. I understand professionally that it would sucked being known as the distracted or uncaring meeting person. But based on what I’ve seen, it’s much worse to be known as the office “mother”. I’m not saying that you are, but do a gut check to see why you want this fixed beyond thinking it’s disrespectful. There can be many reasons why she is acting this way.

  21. Myrin*

    #5, please do it!
    I always think that it’s a shame that the only businesses in my area offering part-time work are in retail and hospitality. While I happen to like both of my part-time jobs in both of those fields – the retail one moreso than the hospitality one, which often seems to surprise people – I really would’ve liked to have more options back when I started looking for part-time work during my university days.
    I’m sure a lot of people would appreciate this opportunity!

    1. Part Time Professional*

      Yes! Adding part time options is also very valuable for people (often women) who are trying to balance caregiving duties with a career. There’s a real dearth of professional-level part time jobs out there.

  22. GermanCoffeeGirl*

    LW 3 – If you have a job in which you don’t have to be easily found on Google/social media, I would suggest turning off the “find” options on LinkedIn and other social media sites. There are data privacy settings in which you can turn off being shown on Google and on partner sites, so your LinkedIn profile won’t show up if somebody googles your name + your profession.

  23. squareround*

    There’s no point running listening questions, the hive mind always becomes accusations of ableism. It’s not about how you listen or if you’re knitting or whatever, objectively it is obvious some people are not listening or participating as they should be in meetings and it’s fair enough to raise it.

    If you can play video games at the same time as listening, awesome! Some people however are clearly kidding themselves about their listening multitasking skills.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      This is a good point – LW1’s coworker may believe she is doing a good job of multi-tasking, when she isn’t.

      Personally, I have found that in meetings when I have to pay close attention, I can’t do anything else that is word-oriented (ie. reading or writing – unless I’m taking notes on the meeting itself). However, I can look at visual material – pictures, art, charts, etc. etc., AND also follow the conversation.

      So, I tailor my multi-tasking to the needs of the meeting. The other day, I got a ton of work done during one in which I really did not need to be there at all (it was a tech meeting that I didn’t even need to be aware of), also got a lot done in a virtual social event at work. But during an important phone call that was dragging on, I looked at pictures so as to not lose too much focus.

  24. Elle by the sea*

    LinkedIn platform changes are often made based on hiring practices at LinkedIn the workplace. (I know this because I used to work there.) And the attitude there is that they really don’t prefer to hire anyone with big gaps, but if the gap is stay-at-home parenthood, it’s something they would not consider an employment gap. Many LinkedIn employees have already been putting their stay-at-home parent employment gaps on their resumes for years, so I guess that company thought it would be a useful change. Apart from this, they also want to make a statement that stay-at-hint parenthood is hard work, a conscious choice and as valuable as being employed somewhere.

    Similarly, the often frowned upon Bring Your Parents to Work Day is not at all out of place given the culture of the workplace. Employees can bring in their friends and family for lunch or coffee any day, but of course it doesn’t mean they will have lunch with managers and other colleagues. The office is so large that they don’t even meet anyone apart from their family members if they don’t want to.

    1. Forrest*

      >>LinkedIn platform changes are often made based on hiring practices at LinkedIn the workplace

      This is hilarious and also terrifying.

      1. Hazel*

        I agree!! And also – they consider taking care of family members an “appropriate” reason for a gap in emplyment, but apparenly other reasons may not be acceptable???

        1. Forrest*

          yeah– this really sounds like there are enough senior people at LinkedIn who are parents that they’ve decided that “raising a family” counts as a good reason for a resume gap (I am imagining those people as white and upper-middle-class, for some reason!) but there’s nobody from a community with a high rate of incarceration, or difficulty getting documented, or chronic health problems, etc, who can change hearts and minds around those issues. Which, if it’s just one company’s policy and culture, is *not great*, but pretty normal! But if that company happens to be LinkedIn and gets to have a huge influence on work/professional norms GLOBALLY, ooof.

          1. LW #2*

            Agreed. What we need is to destigmatize employment gaps overall as a reason for rejecting job applicants out of hand, not just for stay-at-home parents.

          2. Elle by the sea*

            Well, at least when I was there, it barely had any senior people. I felt like I – in my thirties – was pretty old for the overall culture. It’s pretty diverse, though, when it comes to ethnicity and nationality of the employees. But yeah, I felt like there was a sense of this internal culture being presented as overall professional norms when it was obviously not the case. But it’s just my very subjective evaluation of the situation and the logic behind their decisions.

    2. LW #2*

      That’s a fascinating insight, thank you! It makes a lot of sense that the internal culture of the company drives some of the “norms” on the site, whether for good or bad.

  25. Dog Mom*

    LW1, I think you have a few possibilities here.

    1. Your coworker does not want to be at these meetings for whatever reason (for example, she may think they’re a waste of her time) and is continuing to do her work during them because she is choosing not to pay attention. She may or may not be wanting to be disrespectful.

    2. Your coworker has a high workload and truly doesn’t have time for meetings that are not critical. She works during these meetings as she feels she does not have a choice as she will miss deadlines or similar if she doesn’t take this approach. She may or may not actually want to be paying complete attention during these meetings.

    3. Your coworker is neurodiverse, and may or may not have been diagnosed. This means she may have trouble regulating her attention, as she has an excess amount of it, and processes things differently to neurotypical people. She may manage this by doing something which you may think means she is not paying attention, but actually assists her in keeping her focus. For example, doodling in the margins of her notebook or using her computer to play a “mindless” game like Candy Crush. This excess attention being burned off, she can focus the rest of her attention on the conversation at hand. Even if she is giving you 100% of her attention, she may ask you to repeat your question so that she can appropriately order her thoughts.

    4. A combination of two, or all, of the above.

    The only thing you can really do is have a private conversation with her boss about it, and see what actually happens. There may be more at play here, and it may be an issue that your colleague and her boss have already discussed between themselves, and this is the workaround that has been put in place. (For example, “I know you don’t have time for/hate these meetings. Just show up, but you can keep doing your actual work. Just chip in if someone asks you a direct question”, or “thanks for letting me know that you have that condition that might impact your focus/attention span during meetings. I appreciate the heads up.”)

    The fact is, if your coworkers just seem “amused” and your boss isn’t bothered enough by it to have an actual conversation, you may actually be the only person who is genuinely bothered by this. If this is the case, I have been in your shoes before and it is no fun at all. But unless it is something that is truly toxic or harmful that is causing a serious issue, you may just have to let it go.

    1. squareround*

      Why are people so focused on the reasons? The person is making letter writers life at work difficult and comments should focus on outcomes like what should LW do rather than lists of excuses for the disruptive person.

      There seems to be a lot of focus on this site of excusing poor work behaviour. Everyone’s got problems! I’ve got problems! I manage! While accommodations are important and often legislated it’s also perhaps more productive sometimes to focus on helping people overcome their challenges to be better employees than the constant excusing that goes on. We all got problems!

      1. Scarlet2*

        Is that person really making LW’s life “difficult” though? They “know” it bothers the boss, but somehow not enough for the boss to intervene, and people need to repeat a question from time to time.

        We’ve all got problems indeed, but why is LW’s problem (having to repeat a question) somehow more pressing than whatever the coworker’s issue is?
        Looks like calling out the person’s name before asking the question might be enough to get them to focus.

        1. Allonge*

          Because LW wrote in? People get to have larger and smaller problems. Maybe LW felt this is the one they could solve.

          1. Scarlet2*

            The issue though is that LW isn’t the boss and the boss doesn’t seem to care very much.

        2. Archaeopteryx*

          Because a problem that we know about for sure (LW wrote in about the disruptions it causes) should get more focus on an advice website than ones we have no idea may or may not be happening. Also, more than one problem gets to get addressed – if Coworker has “bigger problems” than the LW that doesn’t mean LW can’t seek a solution to the meeting issue. This is like snarking at someone for volunteering at an animal welfare charity because climate change is a much bigger issue.

      2. BubbleTea*

        Quite often where the OP doesn’t have the power to change a situation, the advice focuses on making it less annoying for them, and sometimes considering reasons for annoying behaviour makes it more bearable. I don’t think this is hugely different from those examples, although there are a couple of ways that OP might have power to change the situation. If not, then, well, whatever means you don’t have to grit your teeth, even if that is silently assuming that the colleague has a legitimate reason.

        Sometimes when I am stuck behind a slow driver going substantially below the speed limit, I tell myself they have a box of fertilised chicken eggs on the back seat and are driving carefully so they don’t kill the chicks. Is it likely to be true? Probably not. Does it help me avoid road rage by picturing fluffy little chicks and viewing the driver as an animal lover? Yes, it does.

      3. over-it*

        I understand what you are saying, and I hear you. I have worked with some absolutely awful people, and a lot of really annoying ones. But, with the greatest of respect, part of working is putting up with annoyances, some petty, some very serious, and a lot in between the two extremes.

        If this person’s supposed inattention in meetings is impacting LW1’s work, it’s very different, but if all that’s happening is that LW1 is offended while everyone else is amused because sometimes, a question has to be repeated once, and the actual manager isn’t concerned, LW1 just needs to accept it as one of those annoyances.

        If the reason for this person’s supposed inattention is either an incredibly heavy workload, or a medical condition that they have no control over, accommodations need to be made.

        And you’re right that everyone has problems. Some of those problems are far worse than others. I have managed people for a long time and, at least in my experience, very rarely is the reason for underperformance just “they’re a bad employee” or “they’re lazy” or “they’re entitled”. Sometimes, that is very much the problem. But most of time, there is something deeper than that. Part of managing is helping your team be at their best. Usually, all it takes is a kind, private conversation.

        Sometimes, they’re just a jerk. Sometimes, it’s inexperience or a genuine lack of awareness as to how badly they were performing or treating people. The conversation is often all that is required for them to immediately improve.

        But often, the issue causing the problem with performance or behaviour is a health condition, a family problem, a financial concern, a horrible incident, or another serious stress being caused by something either outside or within work. Sometimes, they’re terrified or frustrated. As a manager, your next question is, “How can I help?” Sometimes, all that’s needed is some extra training or support. Sometimes, an accommodation is all that’s needed, whether that’s letting them start and finish an hour later, or letting them work from home, or letting them out of certain meetings they really don’t have time or need to be in. They might need a week or two off to deal with something urgent. They might need a few weeks off to recover from burnout.

        Sometimes, that’s all that’s needed. Sometimes, it’s more complicated than that, but as the manager, that’s your job.

        And, I’ve probably been lucky here, but the only people I have ever had to actually let go are the genuine jerks. Everyone else, once provided with appropriate support and a little bit of time to improve, ended up being absolutely fantastic at work.

      4. Cat Tree*

        I agree, especially the excuse that she doesn’t want to be at the meeting. Well, we all have to do things we don’t want to sometimes. That’s part of work and part of life. And if her workload is just truly unmanageable, she needs to work that out with her manager, not passive-aggressively waste everyone else’s time in the meeting.

      5. twocents*

        Yeah, I’m a little like… Who cares? And why the assumption that if Jane has a reason, it’s a good one? Enough people can be easily distracted by tech right in front of their face, that it doesn’t need a sympathetic spin on it.

        1. Jennifer*

          Yeah, if she needs assistance it’s her responsibility to speak up about it. It wouldn’t be appropriate for the OP to ask about her medical history anyway.

          1. Darth Mofongo*

            But it’s also not really appropriate for the lw to address it if the boss doesn’t? Beyond Alison’s response, at least.

            Sometimes my team members complain about each other – sometimes it’s legit, and sometimes it’s an unfortunate reality (ie the person not being attentive enough is on a deadline I’m aware of and have given them permission to do the annoying thing because it’s a business need or a personal thing I’m not going to share, etc).

            If one of my team members brought it up to me and didn’t accept my explanation / apology that it was going to remain that way, instead making it a point to publicly try to address it, I would be much more annoyed.

            My best advice is go to the boss like Alison said and then work on letting go of the principle of the thing if the boss doesn’t address it.

            And try saying “Jane” when you start to ask a question next time to see if it helps. Staying mad about it is self defeating if you’re not in a position to fix it and your boss doesn’t care to.

      6. Neptune*

        This. I mean, you can make up stories to justify whatever you like. Maybe OP is the overworked and overscheduled one and is annoyed because she’s having to waste time repeating things to someone who ought to have been listening in the first place. Maybe Jane is distracted working on her plans for world domination and by asking her to pay attention in meetings OP would actually be saving the world. Does that help the OP? Not really, but gosh, doesn’t coming up with all these “well ACTUALLY”s make me feel clever?

    2. Frankie Derwent*

      Re: #3, it seems unhelpful and inappropriate to armchair diagnose LW’s co-worker.

      1. Dog Mom*

        It can sometimes encourage empathy, or sympathy, to realise that people may be struggling with far bigger issues than you are aware. It can also be helpful to realise that not everything someone is doing which affects us actually has anything to do with us.

        If your coworker is not paying attention in a meeting, yes, it can be annoying, and they may just be bored or distracted. They might be an office jerk. They may also be incredibly stressed and have a much bigger workload than you, which you may or may not be aware of. They may also have a medical condition which is making it difficult to concentrate. This is not something that can be easily controlled.

        But is this lack of attention actually causing a real issue, or is it a small irritant for this one person? Everyone else either seems amused or is not bothered. I have a suspicion that if this was actually impacting productivity, there’d be a stronger reaction, especially from management.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          I get that, but I also think that there’s a point (probably after the tenth comment saying the exact same thing) where it stops being “hey, have you considered that it could be this?” and encouraging empathy, and starts basically piling onto the OP. It may not be the end of the world but it is legitimately annoying when it seems like someone is consistently not paying attention and it’s not crazy for the OP to wonder if they can do anything about it. I mean sure, raise these possibilities! But these pile-ons where people keep on and on and on with the “but what if she has ADHD and is being basically tortured by being forced to sit through meetings” (or whatever the diagnosis of the day happens to be) just kind of feel like guilt-tripping the OP for being irritated to me.

  26. Erika22*

    #1, is Jane expected to input on the same agenda items each time or does it vary? Maybe restructuring the agenda would help, so whatever Jane feeds in on comes at the beginning, or whenever she’s more likely to be engaged. And if an agenda isn’t used at all, maybe that would help so it’s clearer where Jane will need to pay attention generally. If the input needed from her is something like project updates, is there pre-work that can be done, like filling in a spreadsheet with an update, so you can get the needed information ahead of the meeting and only ask for a further update if needed?

  27. Mikey May*

    Would a working mom list her the tasks she does at home on her resume? Of course not. The fact that she stops working for whatever reason doesn’t mean cooking, cleaning, caring for kids etc. should suddenly appear on her resume or on LinkedIn.

  28. Salt & Vinegar Chips*

    #1 If your boss knows and is not saying anything let this go. Your boss knowing moves it out of your lane, this is not yours. I’m sorry I know its frustrating but the key here is the co-worker is a peer and your boss (their boss) knows and is not doing anything.

  29. twocents*

    #1, I feel for you. I have a coworker who doesn’t even pay attention during her own meetings, that she hosts! It’s really frustrating to end up with multiple calls on the same topic because we burn through 25 out of 30 minutes rehashing the same thing until she finally has paid enough attention at enough times to understand what is going on.

    Unfortunately, I hate it when peers act like they’re your manager so I expect that if the manager is on and there’s been no change over months, then the manager is okay with it. I have noticed with my particular annoyance that she’s been invited to fewer projects, so your coworker may be losing out on opportunities behind the scenes and you just don’t see it yet.

  30. Bookworm*

    LW1: I can relate from both sides. Would ask if this is a meeting she has to be attend. Is it that she doesn’t think she’s really required to be there or engage, hence the lack of attention? Might be worth also adding to Alison’s response that she is expected to contribute to the meeting, if only in paying attention.

    Because on the flip side (personal experience for me only!), maybe she’s just tired of these meetings. I’ll admit to working through meetings where I’m not required to engage and while this is my pandemic exhaustion talking, sometimes these things really do need to be only Slack messages or emails or meetings cut down only to the necessary attendees and not an entire team.

    Good luck!

  31. Jennifer*

    #3 wait so some guy sent an email to your work address when you’d never given it to him? Yeah he’s just a creep with no boundaries. A lot of us google people we want to know better but he shouldn’t have contacted you there without your permission. You don’t have a work relationship.

    I don’t think you should have to shorten your name, but I do think you should be vague about where you work until you know the person well.

  32. Melonhead*

    LinkedIn: I get that raising the next generation of decent human beings is not work that is valued in America, mostly because it is work that is done by women. That says a lot more about our society than it does about LinkedIn’s new policy. If it is work done in a day care center, it “counts.” If it is done at home for free, it’s worthless and unseemly to mention on a resume. Shame on us.

    1. WellRed*

      In a daycare center, you are accountable to others in a way you simply aren’t at “the home office.” The same is true of many other tasks. Overall, though, I agree that caregiving is underrated.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        This is it exactly. It’s all about the accountability.

        Meanwhile, mugs with “Weekend goal: keep the small humans alive” are available for sale on the internet. (Popped up in my Instagram feed this weekend.) There’s a different standard at home.

      1. Sylvan*

        Me too. Also, I don’t know if that reasoning should be part of site policy. LinkedIn isn’t there to make everyone’s resume meet a certain standard, it’s there to let people make their resumes and network how they want.

    2. LQ*

      If the work is done to the level and expectation within the timeline and to the accountability of someone else then it is a useful metric for others who are looking for people to do work within the expectation, timeline and accountability of themselves.

      The same is true of nearly any hobby or other thing even if it is extremely strenuous and highly masculine pursuits. This can include self-employment as well. If you aren’t doing it for someone who can hold you accountable it’s not a good metric for work where you will be held accountable by the person looking. I’m not saying there is zero sexism here, there obviously is. But there is other stuff happening too and pretending like all “mens” work around the home gets to count isn’t true.

      You can absolutely say that it is problematic that this work is undervalued in general in society. But just shaking your finger and for-shaming doesn’t help understand why or move forward the argument at all. Lets say that in the US we started paying for childcare to be done by parents or caregivers. There would likely be some requirements for that, things that you would or would not get money for, ways that you would lose that fiscal benefit (say if the child was no longer in your care). This would be closer because there would be accountability, reporting (assuming because in the US this is how this works that you’d have to continue to report on your child care giving status on some routine basis to receive payment), and other elements that would make it more analogous.

      1. Jennifer*

        Raising children and running a household aren’t “hobbies.” Plus, there are hobbies and volunteer work that people can actually list on their resume without fear of discrimination, and it’s not the same with caregiving.

        I don’t get the “mens” comment. Most caregiving work is done by women and most stay at home parents are women. So, typically, the majority of men wouldn’t be in the position to have to fill in a large gap in their resume because they were acting as a caregiver for a significant period of time.

        The question is do you risk putting it on your resume and possibly getting discriminated against as a result, or having a large gap on your resume and only giving vague answers for the reason why and hoping that doesn’t count against you?

        1. BubbleTea*

          A man who took a break from employment and spent a lot of that time fixing up cars for his friends and family would not be taken very seriously if he tried to put “amateur home auto mechanic” on his resume, whereas if someone worked for a garage doing the same repairs it would be legitimate work experience (even if not very relevant to the jobs he was applying to). It’s the same sort of concept. Certainly it is true that men are not usually the ones who take career breaks to attend to the needs of their family, but it is still true that if men DO provide care or in other ways focus on home and family, it isn’t something they can put on their CV either. The gender imbalance is the fact that it’s mostly women who end up doing this stuff, not that only women are disadvantaged by it not being taken seriously.

          1. Jennifer*

            That’s just not comparable, imo. A man who chose to take a break from work to fix up old cars vs. a woman who had to quit her job because she couldn’t afford childcare, or had no childcare, as many women have had to do during this past year. There’s a lot more privilege on one side than the other

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      If it is work done in a day care center, it “counts.”

      I mean, it’s been explained over and over that the difference is accountability to someone other than yourself. If you want to say “I’m working hard because I’m a stay at home parent!” but it turns out your kids are wandering the neighborhood wearing nothing but a diaper, or you’re leaving them in the car while you spend an hour in the casino, or leaving the six-year-old in charge of the two-year-old while you take a wine-fueled nap, employers don’t know that. There are no references to call, no former managers to check with, no transcripts to view. Unless you parent badly enough that it actually makes the news, anyone can say “I’m busy being a great stay-at-home parent” and no one can check up on it. It’s like saying you’re a published writer because you self-published a novel. That’s why it doesn’t “count.” It’s not about society.

      1. Jennifer*

        I think everyone understands the accountability issue. I don’t get why people keep repeating that. It’s also a society issue because society in general doesn’t value the work of caregivers and doesn’t value work traditionally done by women.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          These are two different issues. Yes, there is a problem that society does not recognize/value the work of caregivers. But that is completely separate from the fact that being a caregiver without accountability to anyone else isn’t resume content.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Yeah. There are lots of important, undervalued things people can do that don’t belong on their resumes. I mean, Alison tells people to leave irrelevant *work* experience off your resume, so why is there suddenly this presumption that it should be a record of everything you’ve done with your life?

        2. onco fonco*

          But a resume isn’t a place to list everything valuable a person has ever done. It’s a place to list achievements that are relevant to a potential employer, and the accountability issue IS the major reason this stuff isn’t relevant in that context. That’s why people keep bringing it up.

          1. onco fonco*

            (I’m working on the basis that LinkedIn is fairly resume-adjacent – the goal is to put your work persona out there for networking purposes.)

        3. Ben Marcus Consulting*

          Because the issue being pointed out is listing this as ‘experience’ in place of employment. I posted below my thoughts on how toxic of a dynamic this could illustrate.

          I think it’s totally fine to leave it off and when asked about the gap explain that you were a stay-at-home parent. I understand the catharsis that needs to happen the acceptances of stay-at-home-parents, but I don’t think posting it as you would employment is a healthy way to go about it.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            In fact, making stay at home parent an “official” gap filler implies that other reasons for employment gaps, such physical or mental health issues, are less legitimate.

      2. Forrest*

        I think if your only way of testing whether someone really has done the things they claim to have done is to confirm it with a third-party, that’s something of a weakness in your hiring culture. We rely much less heavily on references in the UK: most references here are short, quite formulaic (often just confirming dates), and only picked up after a job offer has been made, rather than used as part of the selection process. The main way we test whether people have done what they claim to have done is by asking them to talk about it, and probing their answers.

        I am not saying this method is perfect, or that we don’t have other weaknesses in our hiring practices. But to me when you talk to someone and ask them to go into detail about what they did and how they did it, it’s immediately very clear what level of responsibility and decision-making they had, what sort of knowledge they have, whether the systems and ways of operating that worked for them in that situation would translate to ours or not. I can’t imagine discounting a significant achievement because it wasn’t done in a work environment.

        For more senior jobs, it would definitely be the case that experience in a workplace would be more relevant and easier for an employer to interpret. But for lower-level or entry-level jobs, I am quite happy to discuss, “I project-managed my own house extension, which meant I liaised with six different contractors, hit several major roadblocks and still finished by Christmas” or “I organised a hen party trip to Lanzarote for twenty people on a total budget of £70oo, including a dreadful mix up about room sharing, but everyone was still speaking to each other by the end.” Is it exactly the same as doing it for work? No! Are there plenty of transferable skills there? Hell yeah!

        I think accountability is important, and I absolutely want some of your work and examples of competencies/achievements to come from paid work, but the idea that you would totally discount anything that doesn’t come from “paid work accountability” sounds very toxic and discriminatory to me, and can only disadvantage people from minoritised and non-traditional backgrounds.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          If this is a reply to my comment, I didn’t mention doing it for pay. Just that it’s not considered resume material if the only person who decides how well you did it is *you* (or, I suppose, people who love you.) If you have some related volunteer work, that’s absolutely relevant. If you did it in school, heck yeah, tell me all about it. But if you’re going to claim you “liased with contractors” for your own house or “organized a hen party” for your own friends, I’m going to wonder if there’s anyone objective out there who would say you did it well. I mean, I know people who think they can organize a fantastic vacation, and would consider it brag-worthy that everyone is still speaking to each other at the end – I assume you’re being facetious, since that’s not much of an accomplishment ;-) – when the truth is that those people were miserable and spent half the trip grumbling about the organizer. Just not to her face. Because they love her. And therefore, there is no objective accountability.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            the idea that you would totally discount anything that doesn’t come from “paid work accountability” sounds very toxic and discriminatory to me, and can only disadvantage people from minoritised and non-traditional backgrounds.

            Also, I’m sorry, but the examples you gave – adding an extension to a house you own, and organizing an expensive trip for a group of friends – don’t exactly sound that inclusive of people with any kind of disadvantage. Just appreciating the irony. ;-)

            1. Forrest*

              Hm, maybe this doesn’t translate transatlantically, but £350 a head for a holiday is a *seriously* cheap package deal! I deliberately went with a high-income one for the former and a pretty tight income for the latter.

              >>I’m going to wonder if there’s anyone objective out there who would say you did it well

              That’s exactly my point– I think you can tell whether someone did it well and has skills that will transfer to the workplace by asking them how they did it, why they did it like that, and how they judged the outcome, not by asking a third party whether they did it well. I mean, 90% of the things that people tell me about in job interviews, I have no idea whether all their workmates were grumbling behind their back about how they did not do it well at all. I don’t expect to get detailed feedback from their employers, and I don’t think it’s necessary to make a judgement call.

              So yeah, I think we should encourage a culture that recognises transferable skills from “part of the organising group for BLM in my area”, “planned my own wedding” or “organised a Call of Duty raid with 30 participants across six time zones”. I don’t think the prejudice against those activities is based in provability nearly as much as its based in cultural ideas of who and what gets to count as professional.

              1. Forrest*

                (I meant to say, I think that a relatively small part of interviewing is “did they do it well”— HOW you did it, and how transferable that is to our environment and this job, is much more important.)

              2. Rusty Shackelford*

                Hm, maybe this doesn’t translate transatlantically, but £350 a head for a holiday is a *seriously* cheap package deal! I deliberately went with a high-income one for the former and a pretty tight income for the latter.

                Yeah, sorry, calling a vacation that costs almost $500 USD “seriously cheap” is just an insanely privileged thing to say, particularly when you’re lecturing me for the same thing.

                1. Forrest*

                  Ok, I was being quite careful to talk about different hiring cultures rather than personalising this, but sorry if that didn’t come across.

              3. LW #2*

                But using a non-work example when you’re asked in an interview to describe a time you organized a large project is not at all the same as listing “Wedding planning” or “Renovation management” as experience on your resume. So it doesn’t really go to the question at all.

                1. Forrest*

                  I agree about the LinkedIn thing! But people were expanding it to talk about how tasks which were done in the home or other contexts aren’t useful at other stages of the recruitment process, which is what I was addressing.

          2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            There’s often not much accountability in volunteer work either. A volunteer at the NGO I volunteer at actually told me she liked it because it didn’t matter if you messed up and couldn’t finish a project! She’s been in the NGO for ages, it’s a huge part of her life, yet she isn’t much good at it. Some people working on a particular project with her tried to get her “sacked” because of various rules she rode roughshod over, and it didn’t work because the ED said we needed all the people we could get. Luckily there are plenty of others who do work seriously or the NGO would be a farce, but there’s relatively little accountability and nobody gets fired.

        2. Jennifer*

          This is a great comment because there are a ton of companies in the US as well that barely check work references or don’t at all. So the whole “how can we know you were actually a good mom” argument kind of falls apart.

        3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I think if your only way of testing whether someone really has done the things they claim to have done is to confirm it with a third-party, that’s something of a weakness in your hiring culture. We rely much less heavily on references in the UK: most references here are short, quite formulaic (often just confirming dates), and only picked up after a job offer has been made, rather than used as part of the selection process. The main way we test whether people have done what they claim to have done is by asking them to talk about it, and probing their answers.

          How do we get this level of sanity across the Atlantic and implemented into new world businesses?

          1. Forrest*

            I mean, we don’t have noticeably more inclusive work cultures than the US so I wouldn’t get too excited too quickly!

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              I’ll grant you that, since I can neither confirm nor contradict it, but you literally wrote that you judge an individual’s skills and capabilities for yourself instead of outsourcing it to a total stranger and relying on goodwill for accuracy and honesty.

          2. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Drink more tea, talk about the weather and adopt sarcasm as a national language /joke

            Truthfully? I think the US will get there one day, it’s a far younger country than our stone circles and old castles and still trying new ideas. Additionally we’re not perfect. I got enough UK employment horror stories…

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              I can sarcasm with the best of ’em, but tea’s going to be a dealbreaker.

      3. D3*

        I’ve run my own, one woman business for 20 years. I’ve not been accountable to anyone other than myself. Somehow THAT counts but SAHP work does not.
        The difference is MONEY, not accountability.

        1. onco fonco*

          If you’ve run it for 20 years and made enough money to get by then you’re pleasing your customers, who wouldn’t keep coming back if they weren’t happy with your services. That’s the accountability.

        2. BubbleTea*

          The money is a proxy for evidence of accountability. If your clients didn’t like your work, they’d stop paying you for it, and you’d stop doing it.

          I’ve been a professional childcare provider for 12 years. My highest qualification is in child welfare, and I absolutely believe that caring for children is important and valuable work that some people are better at than others. I have dozens of families who I can provide as references for my work (although my career now is not childcare-adjacent so I rarely need to).

          But when I take maternity leave in a few months, that period of time will not be on my CV (resume). I’ll still be using all the skills and expertise I’ve developed and which are valued by my childcare clients, but the difference is that no one other than me, and my infant son, will know whether or not I’m doing a good job at it. The families who kept on paying me to look after their kids for multiple years were implicitly attesting to my ability to do it well. My baby won’t be able to fire me and hire a different mother!

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            no one other than me, and my infant son, will know whether or not I’m doing a good job at it.

            Reading this, I flashed on the visual of my 3 year old and 4 month old giving me an annual performance review. It’s going to hard to top that as the high point of my day.

            1. LW #2*

              Haha that’s a great image! Depending on what mood you catch her in, my kid would either demand to have me fired immediately, or offer me a raise and a promotion…

            2. NotAnotherManager!*

              It will come! I routinely get parenting feedback from my tweens, they don’t even wait until annual review time. This week, I am grossly unfair (asked one to unload the dishwasher twice in one weekend), not a fun/nice as Dad (realized that they had lied to Dad about finishing their homework and took away the iPad AND made them do the homework), embarrassing (cheered when they played well during a sports game), and negligent (did not cheer when they played well during a sports game).

          2. Sarah*

            “The money is a proxy for evidence of accountability. If your clients didn’t like your work, they’d stop paying you for it, and you’d stop doing it.”

            I’m not sure that’s true for everyone though. You could own your own business, never make any money, and be supported in your living expenses by a spouse or partner. I actually know a lot of start-ups like that. Some of them eventually go bust, but then the owners use that as a selling point in their next pitch- they’ve learned what not to do. All of that experience is “relevant.” But being SAHM is not. Seems like something is critically wrong in our society.

            1. Allonge*

              It’s not that I disagree but I think you are mixing up relevant (for a resume) and important. If being a SAHM, or, just, M is left off of somebody’s eulogy, that is an issue one way or the other. That someone who is hiring them for an accounting job does not find it useful to know is not.

              1. Rain queen*

                I totally sure with you there. But I’d also argue that being a childcare worker is not relevant to being an accountant.

                Really we need to be more focused on relevant skills and employment. And unconcerned by “gaps”. Because “gap” doesn’t tell you anything.

                It is highly important what the role we are hiring for is.

                Personally, if I was hiring a nanny I’d consider it highly relevant if you were a SAHM. Far more so than prior work in accounting. If I wanted to hire a paramedic I couldn’t care about either

    4. NOK*

      I 100% agree. Alison’s answer was completely backward IMHO, especially given what this past year has revealed about the value of caregiving.

    5. Archaeopteryx*

      It’s wrongly devalued by society, that’s true, but the resume issue is unrelated. It’s not “unseemly” to list it; it’s just unhelpful to your case. It’s the same reason being a professional wedding planner goes on there, but working out all the logistics of your own wedding doesn’t.

    6. Cat Tree*

      It’s not that it’s unvalued. Alison has explained numerous times why it’s not part of a resume.

      I get it that women, especially mothers, are harshly judged for any decision. It’s easy for SAHMs especially to feel the need to prove something.

      But as was mentioned above, parents who also have jobs don’t list their parenting responsibilities on resumes even though they are doing the exact same work as stay-at-home-parents. Even when the paid work is much easier than the parenting work, parents *still* don’t put their parenting work on their resumes.

      The solution to this issue isn’t to act like parenting is the same as a paid job, but to be more accepting of resume gaps.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Oh also, when searching for full time childcare for my own child, being a parent, even a stay-at-home one, isn’t sufficient for me to entrust my child with that person. I want someone with training in childcare and early childhood education, plus knowledge of safety and regulations. It’s devaluing professional child carers to act like it’s no different than being a stay-at-home-parent.

        1. Jennifer*

          But there are people that hire childcare providers that have little or no experience or education and there are daycares that employ them. Same with other caregiver jobs. As the LW said below, those jobs typically are undervalued, underpaid, and done by women of color. Society already devalues them. Sure people in a higher income bracket can afford to hire someone highly educated and experienced but that’s not everyone’s situation.

          1. Cat Tree*

            I mean, big companies also sometimes hire people with little experience or education. I don’t see how that changes my point at all.

          2. LW #2*

            You referenced my comment here, but I don’t understand the point you’re making? I was responding to someone saying that the fact that you can put a daycare job on your resume but not being a stay-at-home parent shows which role is more valued by society, and I heartily disagree with that. Neither are valued sufficiently! But being a stay-at-home parent doesn’t belong on a resume simply because it’s not work experience.

      2. onco fonco*

        “The solution to this issue isn’t to act like parenting is the same as a paid job, but to be more accepting of resume gaps.”

        Yes, yes, yes. This.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Very, very much agreed. Resume/CV gaps should be more accepted and not require a detailed description. I’m not a parent (and never will be) but have had the Devil’s own job explaining my career gaps in ways that’ll be acceptable. In the end, I mostly don’t explain them at all.

      4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        “parents who also have jobs don’t list their parenting responsibilities on resumes even though they are doing the exact same work as stay-at-home-parents”

        Well no, they are delegating a lot of that work. They’ll often have the money to hire a cleaner, so they don’t have to juggle cleaning and childcare. Nobody’s even at home most of the day so there’s much less to clean too. Someone who hires a babysitter for after school and who only gets home in time to read a bed-time story will have delegated all the homework supervision, meal prep and clean-up and bath.

        SAHMs are far more likely to home-school too, which is a huge talent and challenge.

    7. LW #2*

      I actually think this misses the point – daycare work is also incredibly devalued, and many daycare workers live close to the poverty line despite doing vital work for the future of our society and economy. Stay-at-home moms certainly face a terrible amount of stigma that is rooted in sexism and archaic ideas about women’s roles, but the same is true of paid caregiving. The vast majority of caregiving work (childcare and elder care) in the U.S. is paid, and it’s done by low-income women, particularly women of color. Though it does belong on a resume, it doesn’t actually “count” in terms of being paid a living wage, or a safe workplace, or being valued as an important job. So, both are wrong – we need to value caregiving as the important labor that it is, for women wanting to reenter the workforce, *and* for the women who care for our dependent loved ones while we work.

      1. BubbleTea*

        Absolutely – one thing that the UK benefits system has got at least partially right in relation to parents and caregivers is that if you are claiming Child Benefit (a benefit payable to the primary carer of a child – it is means tested but the threshold for losing eligibility is a lot higher than for most state benefits, so the majority of families do receive it), you get National Insurance credits. This means that you don’t have a gap in your NI record for years spent caring for children, which in turn means you don’t lose entitlement to the state pension. It’s not remotely enough to counteract the major economic disadvantage of being a SAHP, but it is at least a start.

    8. meyer lemon*

      I fully agree that caregiving is not given the value and respect it deserves, but I don’t think slapping it into a resume or profile is going to make any difference to that. What really needs to change is more fundamental. Capitalism doesn’t care about the human value of caregiving and the lives of employees outside the office. The LinkedIn change is irritating because it’s a superficial non-solution to a complex and wide-ranging social problem. It feels a bit patronizing, to be honest.

      1. LW #2*

        Yes! This is articulating so well what I found questionable about it – “a superficial non-solution to a complex and wide-ranging social problem.” And also, it puts the imprimatur of LinkedIn on questionable resume advice that could end up backfiring on women who are already struggling to reenter the workforce.

        (Not that I think LinkedIn is a font of good advice, but it certainly adds legitimacy, and this move has gotten plenty of headlines heralding it as an advantage for women.)

      2. onco fonco*

        This is how I feel about it to be honest – it feels like a pat on the head to sahps and carers. Like ‘aw, what you were doing is KIND of like work…’. It’s labour that we can’t do without, it’s unpaid and falls overwhelmingly to women who take an economic hit for stepping up, it is hard and often thankless, and what I’d mostly love is for people to stop assuming that a break from employment means all my skills have withered on the vine.

        1. onco fonco*

          Or no, more as if the only way it could be considered important would be for it to be resume-worthy – except it isn’t, really, for reasons already stated. That shouldn’t diminish its importance, though. Not every damn thing is about business.

          1. meyer lemon*

            Yeah, I totally agree with this. A resume really shouldn’t be treated as a ranking of your most worthy life accomplishments. Not to get back on my anti-capitalism bandwagon, but it is very telling that it can be a struggle to define the kinds of worth that can’t be monetized. Even our words for things like “value” and “worth” are associated with money.

    9. Temperance*

      In all fairness, if you’re working in a childcare setting, you’re professionally caring for multiple children. Raising your own kids is done without any input or oversight of any kind, and there’s far fewer kids involved.

      A parent can just shove an iPad in a kid’s face and walk away. A daycare center can’t do that.

      1. LW #2*

        I mean, you could be a nanny for one child and sit it front of an iPad all day, but you’d probably get fired. That’s the difference between being a stay-at-home parent and a paid caregiver – externally-imposed standards and accountability.

    10. NotAnotherManager!*

      It’s not like parents who work are not also raising the next generation of decent human beings. We’re also doing housework and laundry, managing kids’ schedules and appointments, caring for them when they are sick, etc. This is a just the expectation of parenting. It’s not like I can put on my resume that I held down a full-time job while also being up all night for two years with a child who thought sleep was for the weak and while managing a full schedule of testing and therapy for a special needs child. It’s just part of being a parent, and it’s not resume-worthy.

      1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

        Exactly. Some of this is coming across like those Facebook posts from parents that will say something like “I make sure my kid is fed,” or “All of my kids have clothes.”

        Great, so we don’t need to call the state. Parenting and providing for your children are an expectation of being a parent and it’s doesn’t translate well to work experience.

        The focus should be to improve acceptance of work gaps. Whether it’s for parenting, health concerns, returning to school, or literally anything else.

    11. Sarah*

      Thank you for stating this. The reasons I’m a working Mom of a small child is 1. coming back into the workforce after being a SAHM is super difficult and 2. caregiving is not considered valuable in our society. I have an MBA and a career, how can I go to “just” being a SAHM? And I get Allison’s point, but it is just sad that this is the way society is.

  33. WellRed*

    I am at the moment compiling a list of simple work and non work tasks to get me through our tedious, rarely useful weekly meeting, I do, however, pay attention for the most part and you’d never I’m not 100% all in. OP I’d leave this alone, though I get it’s frustrating.

    1. Richard*

      Good point. Not every meeting is a sacred rite or high-risk surgery that demands laser focus from every participant. That person might be a more productive member of the team by working through the meeting than by participating actively in it.

  34. NerdyKris*

    LW3: As a dude who constantly asks what people do for a living, the usual response I get is to just change the subject. If they push, that’s a red flag. Women usually leave it off their profile entirely if it’s anything that narrows down the location too much. Also, I’ve seen a few women use a fake name on dating sites and give their real name once they meet and feel safe giving it out.

    1. WorkingGirl*

      On dating sites and to men i match with until we meet and i feel comfortable, I work in marketing at a creative company. Gives a little insight into my personality and career but it’s overall super vague

  35. OP #4*

    Thank you very much for answering my question, Alison! I figured I was way too late on this but hey, any excuse to complain about my former employer haha. Just say no to companies with sketchy employment practices, people!

    1. Firecat*

      I feel ya.

      I was also illegally 1099’d. It’s something I’ll watch out for with my own children but yeah, I didn’t know back then and despite getting paid only $200 a week and going into debt for the internship, I had a huge tax bill and penalties to pay late taxes.

      By the time I learned it was illegal the pittily small stair of limitations was over.

      Meanwhile the non profit owner is still a millionaire. This is how she keeps her money.

    2. The Rural Juror*

      It’s a good question since it may raise awareness to someone else, who could then benefit from the knowledge and advocate for themselves or their coworkers!

    3. HM MM*

      If you filed for unemployment and received it (even though you were classified as an independent contractor) it mostly likely triggered an audit/investigation with the IRS (or a state agency) and they most likely already came after the company for taxes/fees related to not paying into unemployment.

      So you most likely did already “report” them without realizing it! :-)

  36. ecnaseener*

    Re #2: for the sake of argument, lots of things can go on LinkedIn that don’t go on your resume. Your resume is understood to be the curated selection of things that really matter for the position you’re applying for, vs LinkedIn can include everything you’ve ever done.
    I definitely don’t think it’s helpful or appealing to put stay-at-home-mom on your LinkedIn, but the reason for that must be more complicated than “just like a resume.”

  37. Van Wilder*

    #1 – Are these meetings truly necessary or could it be handled over email? If necessary, does it have to be held as often as it is? Does everyone need to be there for every meeting? Or does everyone need to be there the whole time?

    I ask these questions as an employee with an overwhlemed calendar, who would just like to get some work done.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      This was my thought as well. When I was teaching, I graded papers all through our lengthy and largely useless staff meetings. I needed the time.

      Turns out that this happens in a lot of industries.

    2. Natalie*

      If the OP doesn’t have standing to ask Jane to pay more attention, I rather doubt they have standing to change anything about the meeting, so I don’t see the relevance of any of these questions.

      1. corinne*

        Respectfully disagree. OP doesn’t have the standing to change Jane’s behavior because she’s not in a supervisory role to Jane. But OP is a member of the meeting, so certainly has the standing to ask about the structure of the call.

        That said, it may not change anything. But there is a point to the questions.

  38. Cat_Admin*

    3. I’m on dating apps and it’s easy to find my workplace

    Be real careful. Years ago, while on I told someone that I worked as an admin at a local university, and gave them my first name. No last name, and we have two universities in this area. I was out sick one day, and found when I returned to the work the following day that a man had showed up looking for me with lilies. Housekeeping put the flowers in my office. I couldn’t figure out where the flowers came from. Housekeeping just said he was a nice looking blonde. I hadn’t dated anyone at that time from the site, but had shared my phone number with a few people and was talking to them.

    One man called a couple of days later wanting to know if I liked them. Scared the crap out of me. This was over the summer, we had no classes in session. It was just a few of us in the building along with housekeeping. Not sure how I would have handled it I would have been in the office. But he did his research and figured out who I was and where I worked. I blocked him on match and on my telephone after this.

    1. 1234*

      Wow. I just can’t. I don’t know why guys don’t think this type of behavior is unwelcomed early on in a relationship. Sure, it may have been romantic or thoughtful if you had been dating for quite some time and had said where you worked.

    2. I Don't Know What I Do*

      I do not have an unusual first name but just knowing I worked in a specific area at a university one man showed up looking for me (thankfully, could not find my office) and at a different job, a man called me at work even though I hadn’t given him my number. The second was from online dating; the first was my gym trainer (very quickly my ex-gym trainer).

  39. What’s behind curtain number three*

    Lw1. Your colleague could be me. I’m drowning in work and have to multitask through my meetings. It’s frustrating and I feel the effect it has on my peers. I haven’t had a single meeting that hasn’t been interrupted by an urgent chat message that cannot be ignored.

    I’m curious if this is a standing meeting that’s just poorly timed. If it’s before 1pm, then I’m dealing with different time zones, a back log of emails, and urgent requests that take priority over everything else.

  40. LQ*

    #1 – My boss has 2x daily meetings that do NOT need to be meeting or be at all. I have one coworker who is really good at doing other work while on the call. If I need him to pay attention I say his name early in what I’m saying and he tunes in. But is there a whole lot of stuff he can be tuned out for? Yup! I’m jealous that he can successfully do other work and split his attention that well, at least with the afternoon meeting I’m too tired to split my attention between half paying attention to the meeting and whatever else I’m doing.

    All that said, if the meeting doesn’t need to be, other than it’s disrespectful (which…yes maybe, but is having meetings you don’t need to be at disrespectful too? I’d suggest yes and at some point you can push back but you run out of capital, but have enough to pay just enough attention to squeek by?) is it a problem if coworker isn’t paying attention? Can you help call their attention to it when you need to? This is your boss’s problem to address.

    When you need coworker to pay attention to what you are going to talk about, just saying their name at the outset of what you are talking about “I’ll need Jane to weigh in on this one.” will draw their attention back to the meeting.

  41. Noncompliance Officer*

    LW#3: I feel you. This happened to me in my first job out of college. When I went to do my taxes, I was stunned to find out I owed (what to me, then, was a TON of money). I had my dad look at it and he said I had been classified as a self-employed contractor even though I went to an office, worked on company computers, under company directives every day. Unfortunately I didn’t really feel like there was anything I could do since I needed the work and later needed the reference.

    1. 1234*

      Did you notice at all that your paycheck was a nice round number? For example, $1000/pay period vs. $987.56 due to taxes being taken out.

  42. Hiring Mgr*

    I don’t think the LinkedIn thing is that big of a deal either way. Just because someone lists what they’ve been doing doesn’t mean they think it’s the exact same as other things on the list.

    If i’m hiring someone, letting me know how they spent their time during a certain period doesn’t seem significant enough to become a huge judgement on their understanding of workplace norms (which are changing all the time anyway)

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I quick scanned article about this.

      There is ALSO a stay-at-home-dad job title, but it’s not mentioned in the article. Dear LinkedIN – you could have made it gender neutral with Stay-at-home-parent which is IMO a much better option.

      It does not need to linked to a company like other job titles are which allows people to use it without making up family companies.

      I think it’s designed to be listed as your current job so you’re not listed as unemployed which would imply that you’re looking for work. If I were advising anyone about it I’d likely tell them to not leave it in their history once they’re looking again. I’m a childless woman so it will never apply to me, but I don’t think it’s terrible.

      1. uncivil servant*

        Yeah, I’m on board with anything that stops people from saying “Stay at Home Mom at Smith Family Inc.” or whatever they’re forced to come up with. (I’ve also seen “Stay at Home Mom at Stay at Home Mom” among those trying not to be cutesy.) I see a lot of people list their volunteer work as their main job, which can be disingenuous when it’s an hour-per-week kind of thing, or they just leave their old position up for a few extra years, which is even worse. The only other option is to deactivate your LinkedIn.

        To me, it seems like LinkedIn is just trying to reflect the reality of people’s lives, although I completely agree that stay at home parent would have been a better option.

  43. Curious Consulate Worker*

    Does anyone know if the contractor thing still holds true if you’re working for a foreign country? I was working at a foreign diplomatic mission (a consulate) located in the United States for several years. We worked out of their offices but had to file quarterly taxes. I always dismissed it as being due to the fact that the employer was a foreign country, so the tax arrangements were different, but it did feel weird since it did not feel like we were contractors

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I would think the IRS and/or State Department would have a quick and easy answer for this. It’s such a specific thing.

    2. Nanani*

      Diplomatic missions are very different from anything else in terms of jobs. There are so many factors, including which country it was and what the current tax treaties were. Don’t ask internet randos, ask the actual tax authorities.

  44. veronica*

    LW#2’s question makes me appreciate my company. They recently started a special “reboot” program targeted at people who have taken a few years off from the profession and have a gap in their resume. It’s set as a 6 month internship. We get to test new folks, their are clear milestones for checking in on skills and if it doesn’t work out on either end, the person has a recent job on resume. Obviously most of the hires are women whom stayed home with children, but we’ve also hired people who joined the army and had other breaks.

    1. LW #2*

      That’s awesome! I hope more companies will start to be more open to candidates with employment gaps. Also, as another commenter mentioned, criminal justice involvement and incarceration cause employment gaps and disproportionately impact people of color, so it would be great to see employers be more open to those folks, too.

  45. Jack Straw*

    OP#3 – Not necessarily because of a unique name, but I dated someone I met on Tinder who used an alias until our second date. They were a parole officer, so I more than understood why. It didn’t impact my like/dislike of them, and if anything, I thought it was smart and tipped the scales in the “I like you more because of that” direction.

  46. LKW*

    LW#1 – I recommend taking a slightly different approach than the others. You know she’s not paying attention. There’s always someone. I technique I’ve used very successfully is when someone isn’t actively involved in the discussion but a question is posed to them, I call out their name and the question “Wilhemina, what do you think about moving the teapot production line to Alaska?” . Not the question and then “What do you think about that Wilhemina?”

    I consider it a professional courtesy, assuming that she’s in the call for a specific purpose and giving her the benefit that if given a small amount of information she can contribute. If you have to revisit the entire conversation to get an answer, then the other options could be used.”

  47. I'm just here for the cats*

    OP #5. When I applied and interviewed for my current job I was told in the interview that there was both a full-time position and a part-time position and asked which I would prefer. I was ultimately given the part-time, but it became full-time because they joined a separate department that was also looking for a part-time admin assistant.
    My point being is that you could advertise in the job looking for both full and part-time and then when you interview candidates ask which they would prefer.

    1. BubbleTea*

      My organisation always includes that requests for part time or flexible working will be considered – roles that are advertised as full time are simply roles where funding is available for full time hours, but if the best candidate can only work three days a week, then that’s what will happen. I initially was taken on doing two part time roles across four days, and have now transitioned into working one full time role across five days. It is a lot more common in the UK, I think, because we have a legal entitlement to request flexible working after a certain length of employment (a year, I think?) so organisations are used to considering and facilitating those requests and many choose to offer it straight away. Far better to have the right person for the job for the hours they can do than the wrong person working full time. Obviously sometimes you NEED full time but not half as often as you might think.

  48. RubyJackson*

    Does it really say “Stay at home MOM” and not “Stay at home PARENT”???? Do they offer a ‘Stay at home DAD” option?

    1. LW #2*

      They have Caregiver, Homemaker, Stay-at-Home Dad, Stay-at-Home-Mom, and Stay-at-Home Parent. And possible others I didn’t see.

  49. Iusuallyreadbutdon'tcomment*

    #1, my first thought was to check how long the meetings last and useful/productive they are for your team mate – where I work we have daily ‘catch-up’ meetings which often last over an hour and are generally the same couple of people rehashing the content of other meetings at excruciating length. A small group of us pushed back but have been told the meetings are staying as they are, so we work while we listen so the time isn’t completely wasted. If this sounds familiar at all, maybe that’s why your co-worker is tuning out and making the meetings shorter and more productive might be helpful for everyone!

  50. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    I’m not a fan of equating parental duties to work duties. There are certainly translatable skillsets, but the context is so drastically different that it makes it difficult to accurately compare applications and the connotations of doing so can be incredibly dark.

    It would be cold to borderline, if not actually, abusive to ‘manage’ your children as you would subordinates. If your kid is underperforming, are you going to put them on a PIP with threat of termination from the family? For that matter, what proof do you have that your overall management is effective? The parental self-efficacy can be all over the place and it’s not uncommon to have a real dirtbag of a parent that thinks they’re the modern day Spock.

    If we do invite such a comparison, don’t we also invite the evaluation of that experience based on the ‘success’ of the family? If you have anything other than a nuclear familial makeup, are you a failure or an innovator?

    Just as it’s toxic for your employer to try to market themselves as a family, it’s toxic to insist your family is a business.

    1. Pikachu*

      Yep. My best friend’s mom stayed at home and routinely beat her and her sister as children even without placing them on a PIP first. Does that make them bad employees or her a bad manager? Tough to say.

  51. Pikachu*

    #2 – My big issue with this is not that parenting isn’t “work,” nor do I think it’s easy by any means. My problem is anyone can put “stay at home parent” on their resume, but it doesn’t mean they did any parenting. It doesn’t mean they weren’t emotionally or physically abusive. It doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a nanny and housekeeper helping out. It just doesn’t mean anything in a professional context.

    I 100% agree that employers need to get over themselves when judging employment gaps, and I hope recent events will encourage that trend. I think discussing extended leave is important in an interview context. But if the only stakeholders you are accountable to are the ones you claim on your tax return as dependents, then that information doesn’t belong on documents/profiles that represent you as a working professional.

  52. Agent Diane*

    LW5 – in the UK, this is a job share! You take on two part-time workers with complementary skills. They might both do a 3 day week too, so you get an overlap day. I’ve no idea if that term has any US specific meaning but I’d say be open to having two part-time people who are like a Venn diagram of skills.

  53. knitcrazybooknut*

    #3 – I went by a completely different name when I was using online personals, and waited until I had developed a rapport and might want to meet with them before I gave them my real name. This was 20 years ago (pour one out for Yahoo Personals), but the principle remains the same.

  54. I am on a quick break lol*

    I dated someone who after a few weeks of dating, finally told me her real first name. She explained that she had someone who contacted her ex husbands work when she rejected him because she was very easily googable. From then on she used a fake first name and only told someone when she knew them for a while and felt they were trustworthy. I totally understood when she said that. Any decent person would.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I heard a story about musician Phil Collins once, and it might be apocryphal, but it’s good and it’s relevant. ;-) When he started dating a particular woman, he introduced himself as Bill, because he didn’t want her to be attracted to him just because he was a famous musician. When he finally felt she liked him for who he was, he confessed that he was actually Phil Collins, and explained that he wanted her to love him for who he was, not for his fame. Her response was “Who is Phil Collins?” I desperately hope it’s true.

  55. Todd*

    #1 If I have to spend 2 hours in a zoom meeting where my relevant portion is about 2 minutes, you can bet I’m going to try to get some other work done.

  56. BigRedGum*

    #1 – I am guilty of this in the majority of our team meetings, but so is the rest of my team. There are usually very small parts of the meeting that actually apply to me, so i use that time to catch up on unanswered emails. If we were in person, I used to doodle on my agenda. If this is the most annoying thing in your office, you are lucky.

    #2 – I get the reasoning behind it. i do. BUT! when i was in charge of hiring, I didn’t bother with “weird” resumes. We don’t have kids in the business, and i’m not going to expect this person to do laundry, so why is “stay at home parent” useful? I’d rather have a list of reasons why they think they’d be a good fit, than the SAH title, which is so broad.

  57. anika*

    I’m curious about the technicalities of worker misclassification. It’s super common for large corps to hire people through what are essentially temp agencies; except they keep these workers around long-term (aka years). Said worker is considered a “contractor” to Big Corp, but Big Corp is the one who determines the worker’s schedule, where they work, and provide the equipment for working. Worker is considered an employee of Agency, Agency handles payroll and taxes, and may provide health benefits (though usually not PTO, in my experience), but they have basically no say in the day-to-day of Worker’s work.

    This seems like an end-run around the spirit of the law (if not the letter), since while I guess Worker is classified as an employee of someone, they are not an employee of the company that is directing their actual work. I’ve also heard of Big Corps letting a worker’s contract lapse after a couple years, only to hire them back (as a “contractor”, of course) after a few months, which seems designed to avoid scrutiny.

    So, technically, is this legit? Or is Big Corp violating the law?

  58. Elizabeth West*

    #2–I wish people would be more understanding about gaps in general. Obviously, if you haven’t worked in decades and the last office machine you used was a mimeograph thing with the purple ink (mmm, by the way), someone might be reticent to hire you. But I’m so sick of unemployment discrimination.
    It’s not your fault if there are no jobs in your area and you have to move.
    It’s not your fault if it takes you time to move, especially when you’re not working.
    It’s not your fault there was a global pandemic.

    There are so many different reasons for a gap, and even a longer one doesn’t necessarily mean someone would be a bad employee.

    #3–The guy who tracked down and emailed the OP at work instead of going through the app is NOT a gentleman. Eww. That’s creepy!

  59. Harvey JobGetter*

    I’m basically LW #1’s coworker. I work 80+ hours/week and am required to attend between 5 and 10 1-hour+ meetings weekly at which my input is needed for just a few minutes per meeting. It’s impossible to know going in exactly when those few minutes will occur. I do other work during these meetings. I did this when we met at the office, too. (I also attend other meetings where I don’t do other work.)

    I’m not willing to add 5-20 hours to my work week to ensure that I pay attention to every minute of these meetings because that level of attention is NOT NECESSARY. If you have to repeat a question I need to answer, so be it. If you ask my boss to insist that I pay attention for those entire meetings, my boss will politely tell you to shove it. They will then tell me this happened because they think it’s important that I know which of my coworkers respect my time and which don’t. Having to repeat a question occasionally really isn’t a tremendous burden. Asking me to increase my work week by 20 hours is.

    I don’t know LW #1’s situation, but it’s very possible that the coworker is the reasonable person here.

  60. EngineerMom*

    More of a question for Allison regarding the response to #4: Is there any value in reporting the company, just to have a paper trail of the illegal classification?

  61. corinne*

    #1 – this could be a culture issue (not knowing if both OP and Jane are long-time employees of this company)

    When I worked at Company A, we had a new hire (who came from Company G) who worked during meetings and didn’t pay full attention. I found it odd at the time but he was a sharp guy and it didn’t really slow us down, and I didn’t have the standing to say anything.
    I now work and Company G, and it’s much faster paced organization…and everyone works during meetings. I know have a much better understanding of why my former colleague acted the way he did. 1, that was what he was used to. 2, he was probably a little bored with our pace. (I don’t agree with the GO FASTER mentality at Company G, but it’s hard to shake.)

    1. corinne*

      Typos galore, sorry.
      I now work *AT Company G, and it’s much faster paced organization…and everyone works during meetings. I *NOW have a much better understanding of why my former colleague acted the way he did.

  62. bopper*

    Re: distracted coworker on Zoom

    This happens all the time…one way to prevent it is instead of:
    “Let’s go with the green teapots, what do you say, Pat?”

    you say their name first so they perk up and tune in…and also maybe summarize a tiny bit…
    “So Pat, to summarize, the overall thought right now from handles and spouts is that green would be the best color…does that work for paining?”

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